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tv   Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  September 4, 2013 8:00pm-1:01am EDT

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>> a headline in the washington times. politico, quoting nancy pelosi, maybe weeks of debate on syria. the headline in the national journal, syria strike opponents seek the foreign coalition of the unwilling. if you want more information about the house hearings on syria, you can go to c-span.org. there, also read white house documents on the scope of the chemical weapons attack. up next, we show you the senate foreign relations committee today where members approved a serial resolution with a vote of 10-7. some lawmakers on the house side of the capital here four hours
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of testimony on syria. >> c-span, we bring public affairs of vents in washington directly to you putting you in the room at congressional hearings, white house events, briefings and conferences and offering complete gavel-to-gavel coverage of the u.s. house all as a public service of private industry. we are c-span, created by the cable industry and funded by your local cable or satellite provider. now, you can watch us in hd. >> the senate foreign relations committee voted today to grant the president authority to launch a limited military strike in syria. in response to their governments use of chemical weapons against civilians. this would commit 90 days of military action and prohibit the deployment of ground streets. this is one hour 45 minutes.
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[inaudible]
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[laughter] >> the committee has rules against electronic games. >> this meeting of the senate foreign relations committee will come to order. in the last you days, the committee has come together in a spirit of bipartisanship and drafted a resolution to authorize the use of limited military force in syria that i believe can achieve bipartisan support. there will be obviously through
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our process here on the committee, an amendment process, but it is my expectation that we will be able to achieve the goals largely set out by the resolution. the spirit in which all members have come to this issue. this is one of the most weigh tiest issues that any memorable cast a vote on. we come to it seriously and committed to getting the facts and coming to their respective conclusions. i want to thank senator corker for being a close partner in making the resolution tailored and focused so that it reflects the general sentiment and will of the majority of the committee. i believe the interests of the american people, it gives the president the authority that he needs to respond to syria's use
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of chemical weapons against its own people. this is an authority he has asked for and it is an authority that we believe we have tailored in such a way that it meets those goals but also the concerns of members of the committee. we have developed language that we believe appropriately narrows the scope, duration and breadth of the campaign to meet concerns. i want to thank all of our ,olleagues who have engaged sometimes very passionately, including senator mccain on this issue, for helping the committee and the nation focus its attention on the importance of what we are doing. this is a tightly tailored or specified authorization to give the president necessary and appropriate parity -- authority to use military force against the syrian government to protect
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the national security interest of the united date and our partners and degrade syria's use -- capacity to use those weapons in the future. that the united states has a specific military plan to achieve the goal of responding to the use of weapons of mass destruction by the syrian government, and that the use of military force is consistent with protocols of u.s. strategy toward syria including achieving a negotiated settlement to the conflict. it has the limitation specifying that the resolution does not authorize the use of the united states armed forces on the ground in syria for the purpose of combat operations to ensure that there be no boots on the ground. the authorization would end after 60 days with the president having the authority to request and certify another 30 days and congress having the power to
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pass a resolution of disapproval. strategy fornited syria including a copper hence of review of economic and military policy toward syria. it requires a report to congress on the status of those military operations. let me thank senator corker and all the members of the committee for working together in the interest of the american people. challenge, i this believe it is a declaration of our values. it sends a clear message that the world cannot and will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons anywhere. with that, let me turn to my colleague and ranking member, senator corker or his statement. >> mr. chairman, i thank you. i want to thank you for your patience. for especially the briefing that we had this morning where obviously some themes were developed.
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in particular, through the line of questioning that took place -- i want to thank all the committee members for the humility but also the thoughtfulness that everyone has approached this issue with. in particular, i want to stress my appreciation to senator mccain and senator koons who i think were able to grasp the essence of developing themes that are going to further the markup in a very positive way. with that, thanks to all members, i have had plenty of time to be heard. i would rather defer. i know we have some members that may have only a short. of time with us -- a short period of time with us. we are somewhat filibustering as we wait for language to be developed that encompasses the discussions taking place. with that, after chairman, thanks for bringing us to this place.
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>> all right. think you, senator corker. we are trying to logistically get to where we are at. entertain amendments of that seek to be offered to the resolution, senator paul. president forhe doing his constitutional duty and bringing before the congress and asking for the authority to go to war. i think it should be made very explicit that this is his constitutional duty and that we are bound by the constitution, bound by the ideas of the founding fathers. explicitly presented by james madison in the federalist papers that the executive branch is the branch of government most prone to war and therefore, the constitution vested the power to go to war in congress. some would say this isn't a war, this bombing is not a war.
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sailors and ships are not war. that we only define waenthere a. i think that would be an absurdly narrow definition of or -- war. . this will indeed be a war. hopefully it won't include casualties on our side. we should make a pretense about getting involved in a war. the president when he ran for office said that no president should limit -- unilaterally go to war without the authority of congress. many paid lip service to this, but this is a chance to vote for whether or not you believe this to be true. this will be a senate resolution that reads that the president does not have the power under the constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation. i submit it for recorded vote if i may. >> senator mccain. >> mr. chairman, first i would
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like to applaud senator paul's active participation in this issue. zeal int very much his trying to make sure that the respective authority of congress and the president is preserved. i think what senator paul amendment brings up is something that i hope this committee will start to work on and that is the war powers act. in a little bit of contrast to what senator paul's interpretation of the constitution is, the war powers act, the president can act but has to come back to congress within 60 days. no president has ever agreed that that is constitutional and yet they have observed it. i think what senator calls
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amendment brought up -- senator paul's amendment brought up is this whole issue of constitutionality of when the president can take us to war, what the role of congress is, and how we address that very transcendently important issue that i think is a distorted balance between the congress and the president. i thank senator paul for his amendment even though i may not agree with it. he really does bring an important issue that we need -- it is wrong for i law to be on the books and every president of the united states saying it is not constitutional. thinks it isident unconstitutional, challenge it in court. they haven't. i thank senator paul for his amendment. >> one of the things that i think is misunderstood about the
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war powers act is that the war powers act does allow the president to take action in three specific cases. one, if a war has been cleared by congress. two, if there has been statutory approval under use of authorization of force. third is imminent attack. it doesn't give unlimited power to the president to authorize military force. we can debate whether it is constitutional or not but under the war powers act those are the only three ways you can go. the press and the media and everybody misinterprets the war powers act to be 60 days and he has to report. that is true but that is not the beginning of the act. that is one power -- part of the act. >> could i just say to my friend in response, the third provision is what is not clear. we are about to enact a statutory act.
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i don't think it is quite as clear as senator paul -- >> senator durbin. this is anrman, important proposal by the senator from kentucky. we should take it seriously. the most awesome responsibility that we have as members of congress is the constitution. i would like to suggest to him that we take care in the language that we use and that we use the exact language of the war powers resolution as opposed to the which which you have added here. i think it will create some ambiguity if we put in a new standard. let me be specific. at the end of your amendment, you say does not involve, and you use the words, stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation. the war powers act says, a national emergency created by attack on the united states or its territories or armed forces.
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if you would consider that as a friendly amendment to use the exact language of the war powers resolution which you referred to indirectly, i think we would be on more solid ground. >> yes, i would be very happy to. >> senator rich. mr. chairman, first of all, senator mccain is right. this is an important debate probably for another day. i submit an amendment. i see we haven't got it here. think maybe i can make this simpler. if you go to page three and go to the third last line where it says the word constitution. where is the president has authority under the constitution, that is where the rub is. the argument is to whether or not he has authority. i would suggest that we take out the word constitution and state
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instead that whereas the president has authority under the war powers resolution of 1973. that will incorporate the exact language as suggested by senator durbin. paul,k it also, senator gets us exactly where you and i want to be as far as our belief as to what the power of the president is. >> senator mccain. >> i like senator rick's point. that is a good one. this war powers issue is one i am obsessed about. senator mccain and i have talked and i hope we will address it. the debate we have had a last couple of days demonstrate the important of it. here is the challenge. i hope you will tell me i am wrong on this. i just read an ap report about your stated intention to filibuster a vote on the syria resolution if it hit the senate floor. it is hard to praise the president for bringing something to congress for a vote and then say you were going to try to
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filibuster to deny me the right to vote about it on the floor of the senate. >> misinterpretation from the media. >> i am just reporting what the ap is reporting. i would hope that if we are going to encourage the president to bring these matters to congress that we don't use procedural tricks to block congress from being able to vote on these matters. >> thank you, mr. chairman. senator corker. >> i want to thank the senator from kentucky for bringing this up and say that senator kaine has wanted to address this issue. begink a process might with looking at the authorization for the use of military force in general. i know we have one specific to syria right now and we have lots of other activities that are taking place around the world. i know there have been discussions about trying to address that. build into the place of dealing
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with the war powers resolution in general. i thank him for bringing it to us today. i hope that we don't do anything today that takes away from our ability to pass something on the committee. >> let me just say that the chair appreciates senator paul's commitment and passion on this issue. i think that the issue is so significant to place into question the constitutionality of what the president does and does not have, and this particular context, is not timely. deserves, including something that the ranking member has been pursuing for a while which is a debate and consideration of what
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authorization of military force looks like more broadly than in the context of syria, that would be an appropriate debate and hopefully a discussion in getting some key witnesses here. support, and the context of this resolution, to make weighty determinations even though it may be a sense of congress on the constitutionality of this particular set of issues in this timeframe. i would have to oppose the amendment. senator udall. >> thank you, chairman menendez. let me just say -- i know the issue of whether or not we put it in here is one that is pending and the chairman feels strongly about it. i am very proud of the congress. the way it has stepped forward
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and asserted its authority. we had at last count several hundred members sign a letter to specifically asked the president to not go forward and bring this to congress. to me, that is recognizing a new era in terms of congress rather than sitting back, actually saying, we are going to exercise our right under the constitution. the constitution specifically says, as senator paul has put in here, that the power to declare war is with the legislative branch, not with the executive branch. we have heard a lot of statements about whether or not the president can move forward regardless of this amendment. i think it is important to have this in here. i would applaud him and i hope that we have entered a new era where congress will assert its power under the constitution
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when we get into situations like this. so i would support the amendment if we get the opportunity to have a vote on it. thank you. >> any other members? senator rubio has not had an opportunity. >> this is an important issue regarding the role of congress in setting foreign policy and in particular it power to make war. i want to understand the amendments in the context of history. reflects whatat is being discussed here is an engagement when president reagan decided to launch a limited strike in libya. this reconcile with president reagan's decision in 1986 or grenada which involve ground troops, and operation of that magnitude? >> when you look at this and you look at a war powers act, this
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doesn't do anything beyond what the war powers act says. it does reiterate what the war powers act says. as has been discussed, there is some disagreement. some people don't think what we are getting ready to commence with is war. some people think the lesser the military attack, the less of a war it is. the constitution doesn't differentiate between big wars and small wars. it does differentiate in the war powers act between defensive action and an action that doesn't have some sort of immediate threat. i don't think either of the cases you mentioned, there was an immediate right to the united states. i think these are open to interpretation but what is not open to interpretation is an event like what we have now, whether or not the congress should have to give authorization. >> it is interesting we are having this debate on a request by the president for us to act
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under the war powers resolution. i think senator mccain is correct. this is a subject that the president and congress -- it is a debate we should have in congress. i am a strong supporter of the war powers act. i think presidents should adhere to the powers. i think the resolution that we have here is probably -- properly drafted. it says where the president has authority under the constitution. the president's responsibility to carry out laws passed by congress. we have already covered this. there is a specific reference to the war powers in this constitution. we are not going to be able to resolve in this committee the long-standing dispute between the executive and legislative and judicial branches of government as to how the
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exercise of force is authorized and implemented. i would urge us to stick to the issue at hand. this is one of the most challenging and difficult decisions for members to make on the authorization of force. it is heart wrenching. consequences of the use of force try toink we shouldn't deal with the overall issues of authorization generally, which requires far more discussion. >> any other members? >> mr. chairman, i agree with senator cardin that the president has asked for authority under the war powers authorization. as a result of that, we ought to be clear here that that is what we are responding to. we have the word constitution in here and that is what causes the disagreement among parties. i would respectfully request we just take out the word constitution and accept what everybody agrees to, and that is
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that this is under the war powers resolution of november 7, 1973. if you take that in here -- put that in here, we can move on with the merits of it. as senator cardin correctly stated, this has been wrestled with by every branch of government. there is no resolution at this point. i am worried that if we put this in here, somebody is going to say, he is going to interpret that to be that this power is under the constitution, not the war powers resolution. beyondink that clause is the authorization concluded in this bill. it is not in regards to chemical weapon used by syria. >> again, i come back too, we ought to get this behind us and get onto the merits of the thing. you don't even need this word. hereas is superfluous and
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it is causing a fight that we don't need to have. we are arguing about specific hereas that wew don't need in there. you can resolve this by changing the word constitution to work powers resolution. >> senator paul's amendment is specific note.at i will give you the final word before we go to vote. >> what i would say is there never seems to be a good time to debate. this is a very good time to debate this. the nation is looking at us, asking us what we believe with regard to what our role is, what congress's role is. this is precisely the time to do it. what i would also say, is this precisely comes up because the president has been asked point blank, the secretary of state has been asked on at least two
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or three occasions what would happen if congress puts you down. are you going to stand by the authority of congress to make this decision? they have hedged. the vote is a very important vote because this is about -- like i have said to secretary kerry, you are probably going to win. the thing is, we need to be very clear that by coming, he is seeking congressional authority. he must abide by it. you shouldn't get it both ways. we should say we are either for congressional authority or not. this is a great issue. it is a perfect time to talk about it. it is a perfect time to take a stance. thank you. >> i appreciate the senator's remarks. the issue is weighty and
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important, but not to be done in this context. i assume the senator is asking for a vote. his request is put forward. i am going to move to table the amendment because it is an expression -- from my view, this is an important issue that should be held. right now, it is much greater than the issue that is before us. i will move to table. the clerk will call the roll.
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[inaudible] >> mr. rubio? >> aye. >> mr. johnson? >> no. >> mr. mccain? [inaudible] >> mr. paul?
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mr. chair? >> aye. aye, 5 nay. the amendment is taken. senator mccain. >> mr. chairman, i have two amendments. i move that they considered since they are inextricably related. i would like to describe these amendments. i would like to thank senator kunz -- this amendment is beyond -- on behalf of myself. and senator kunz. i thought this morning's session that was held was a very
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usellent ability for all of to not only hear from the administration but to get a lot of questions answered and i appreciate you holding those. i thank you and senator corker for the hard work that you have done on this legislation. i think it may be one of the most important pieces of legislation that this committee will consider and i thank you and senator corker for your leadership. amendments have to changinghe issue of the battlefield situation in syria. the president of the united date has articulated -- united states has articulated three basic policy measures that he advocates. one, is to degrade the chemical
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weapons capabilities of bashar al-assad. give greater support to the syrian army and those who are seeking to prevail. third, a change in the battlefield to switch the momentum which presently thanks llah,00 has below -- hezbo russian equipment being flown in every day, rainy and assistance -- iranian assistance, the momentum is on the part of bashar al-assad. if we expect them to leave power, it would be because that situation is reversed and he believes that he cannot prevail. so what these two amendments do quote.e -- i will
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it is a policy of the united states to change the momentum on the battlefield in syria so as to create a favorable condition for a negotiated settlement that ends the conflict and leads to a syria.tic government in a conference of u.s. strategy in syria should aim as part of a coordinated effort to degrade the capabilities of the assad regime to use weapons of mass .estruction amendment to an start with that we basically replace part of the legislation as it is presently written and replace it with the following 21tement, whereas on may 2013, the foreign relations committee passed by a 15-3 vote a serious transition support act
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which founded the president's goal of assad leaving power ane end and to the violence, are prerequisites for a stable democratic future for serious iad -- for serious -- for syr and peace in the region. sufficient incentives do not yet exist for the achievement of such goals. wasght add, that entire act passed by a 15-3 vote here in the foreign relations committee and is presently on the calendar. i hope my colleagues will appreciate that this is really important, that we are on record, that we want to change the military equation on the battlefield. i think any observer, all of us included, would agree that unless bashar al-assad believes that he is going to lose, it
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would be impossible for him to negotiate a peaceful settlement and departure from syria. i would like to ask my colleague senator kunz, if you don't mind, to make remarks. i hope my colleagues will consider this amendment. >> senator cowan's. >> -- senator kunz. >> thank you. i think this offers a clarification. nothing about this adds to the scope of the authorization. nothing about this amendment adds to the scope of the authorization for the use of force. it does point the rest of our colleagues do valuable work that was done on this committee and that currently sits waiting for the consideration on the floor. range ofered a wide factors and concerns in place. i want to draw your attention to
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the point of that is made here that our overall policy is a negotiated resolution. an international effort to degrade the capabilities of the assad regime to use weapons of mass destruction, to change the momentum on the battlefield, to change the momentum on the battlefield in order to encourage a negotiated a lyrical settlement to the civil war. i think that is worth restating. i would be grateful for this part of my colleagues. >> any other colleagues who wish to speak to this? senator murphy. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i think it goes without saying that this does fundamentally alter -- alter the nature of this authorization. it combines the authorizing resolution that we passed several months ago with the underlying legislation that we have been debating. it does so in a statement of policy that says for the first but passagengress,
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of this act, supports the president's efforts which have been reported in open sources over the past several months, arming with both lethal and nonlethal capabilities, the vetted elements of the syrian opposition. i would note that in that authorization that we passed several months ago which i did not support, we were very careful to attach to that resolution and authorization, some pretty carefully thought- out conditions and controls. that would go along with the president's new authority to arm the syrian rebels. by stating today that it is the policy of the united states government endorsed by the congress to do that, we drop all of that work that we have previously done. i know this is not the same thing as authorizing legislation but i do think that this is a fairly substantial change. i think it will take some people by surprise, particularly in the
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house of representatives as this goes forward. i appreciate the fact that many members of the committee have been calling upon the president to do this for every long time. this committee has spent an enormous amount of time talking about this issue of arming the vetted elements of the syrian opposition. it is not a debate that this full senate has had or that has been conducted in the full house . i would argue it may complement -- complicate discussion on this forward. >> senator corker. >> i just want to thank senator mccain for being such an advocate, for having a coordinated strategy. i don't inc. there is -- think there is any committee that has spent more time trying to press that issue. i want to thank senator coons for trying to continually ensure that things that we do we do in a way that accomplishes an and. i thank them both for capturing
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a theme through the question that they and others asked this morning. , i think the administration very much supports as secretary kerry said this morning, a further affirmation of these policies in an integrated way. i look forward to wholeheartedly supporting their amendment. >> any other colleague? supportive of the amendment and i want to congratulate both of them for coming together and particularly senator mccain for his stalwart advocacy towards this and senator coons who has been an advocate of a broader serious strategy. the first amendment is part of a whereas clause. what it does is restate what
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this committee has already done in a vote of 15-3. in that respect, amendment number one is just a restatement of that fact which exist but it is an important fact. is aendment number two, it statement of policy but it is largely a statement of policy that the administration itself has verbalized and ultimately, in the statement of policy, it creates an understanding that this is our ultimate policy. but it does nothing in terms of alterator coons said to the scope of authorization in which that authorization unlike these. transition support act would have specific provisions.
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it is an important statement. it moves us to a broader syria strategy which i commend both senators for. something that has largely been accepted by and voted on by this committee. i would be supportive of both amendments. is there anyone else who wishes to speak on the amendment? if not, senator mccain? >> if it is agreeable to i would ask for a voice vote. >> the voice vote has been asked for. all those in favor will say aye,. it, bothhave amendments are agreed to. is there anyone else who wishes to offer an amendment on the democratic side? senator cardin. >> i was going to offer an
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amendment with regards to the use of ground troops that make it clear that the authorization does not authorize the use of american soldiers in syria. the language here is clear. it does say that the restrictions include the use of the united states armed forces on the ground in syria for the purposes of combat operations. i was concerned about the language, combat operations. as a result of hearing the committee has held, i am confident that there is no soldier being asked to go into syria as a result of this authorization and i understand that will be made extremely clear in our committee report. there is always the unexpected -- i certainly understand that -- but our authorization was
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clear that there will be no ground troops in syria. i will not be offering the amendment. >> and you, senator cardin. i assure you that the committee report will have language that makes it clear that the language that is in the resolution is for its stated purpose. i would be happy to work with him to make sure that language is something that he finds supportive. is there any other member that wishes to make an amendment? senator coons. simply expandsnt on the required elements for inclusion in the serious strategy reports. syria strategy reports. 5bamends section five be -- and inserts additional provisions within the broader serious strategy report.
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it has a section regarding security coordination with allies and regional partners including israel, jordan and turkey. it has a section on planning for securing the existing chemical, biological and other weapons supplies in syria. last, it adds a section that the policy address efforts regarding the ongoing humanitarian challenges presented by 2 million syrian refugees in neighboring countries and 4.5 million internally displaced persons in syria. report that we anticipate from the administration as part of this authorization. i would hope for a voice vote. >> chair is supportive of the senator's amendment. it is a valuable addition to the resolution. any other members wish to speak to it? >> i thank him for a contribution. i plan to support it wholeheartedly.
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>> senator asked for a voice vote. all those in favor will say aye. all those opposed will say night. -- nay. the ayes have it. senator durbin. >> and amendment i have been working on that addresses a practical situation. under the proposal before us, the president if this is enacted into law, after submitting certification to congress has 60 days to exercise his authority under this proposal. he can extend that another 30 days with another certification to congress unless congress disapproves. hypothetical situation, if this became law and the president implemented it on september 15, then he would have until november 15 to use that.
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of time ash that period of time. eriod of time. the question is, what happens on the 91st day? what if assad decide then that he will use chemical weapons again? will we would turn to congress again to start the debate again? senator mccain and i have worked on the line which. i don't believe it is ready at this moment. it does leave open the possibility that we ought to consider. i wanted to raise that for the committee. i won't be offering the commandment -- amendment. i asked senator mccain if you would like to make a comment. >> i think my colleague from illinois. there is a perception problem here that can be created that we need to avoid. that is that we will take this vigorous action until the 91st today and then bashar al-assad
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is able to resume his atrocities with chemical weapons. obviously, none of us believe that. none of us agree with it. we are kind of working to try to find a way to give everybody confidence that at any time if bashar al-assad uses chemical weapons again, that the united its of america will act. we don't have to go through -- we don't want to go through the authorization and debate on the floor etc. at the same time, the dilemma that we face is that we don't want to give an open-ended kind of authority to the president of the united states either. we would solicit the input of all members as to how we can address the perception created by this issue, but at the same the legitimate
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role that the congress plays in determining these issues. i thank my friend from illinois and i hope that all my colleagues will continue to work together. by the time this legislation reaches the floor, perhaps we could have some kind of consensus on it. >> mr. chairman. >> senator durbin. >> i would like to offer durbin amendment number two. >> before you do that, if i may comment on the amendment that you withheld on. the chair appreciates the concerns that have been raised. i have prepared an amendment in this regard to bring us closer to ensuring that assad understands that he can't wait out the time. , go back to chemical weapons and go face no consequence or it we are getting closer and closer to a language that would find both the restraint and the opportunity, but i think it would be worthy of working
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collectively with everyone who has an interest in this as we move towards the floor. the chairman withheld his amendment as well and appreciates the comments of my colleagues as we try to work towards something that meets that challenge. senator durbin. >> mr. chairman, i have two amendments. one of these i raised earlier when we had an informal meeting. the use of the word, limited and tailored has stumped me from the start. i hope i am not nitpicking here. i don't think that this is the right word. i am told that even the president has used the word. i hope that we would instead say that we are dealing with authorizing the limited and specified use of the united states armed forces against syria. i have looked up the word tailored. there is no definition that comes close to what we are trying to do. i think the word specified makes it clear that what we are trying to achieve, we are limiting what
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the president can do and specifying what the president can do. that is my amendment number one. i can take a voice vote on this. >> is there anyone else who wishes to be heard on this amendment? the chair believes it achieves the goal we are trying to achieve. all in favor will say aye. the ayes have it. the amendment is agreed on. i think -- on behalf of the committee, there is one section that troubles me. it is on page four, paragraph one. keep in mind what we are doing here is spelling out the authority of the president of the united states to use military force for specified purposes. we are specific in paragraphs two and three, to deter syria's
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use of such weapons. degrade syria's capacity to use such weapons in the future. the first paragraph troubles me. it is open-ended. instead of specificity about the purpose for the use of force, it says, respond to the use of weapons of mass destruction of the government of syria in the conflict in syria. that to me is as general and wide-open as you could write it. i think it really belies the rest of this effort and what we are trying to achieve. i am troubled by that reference to respond, which i think is open-ended. i am also concerned, this came up in closed session, with another element that was not included in the original white house draft. the original draft included the following, prevent or deter the use or proliferation, and this
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is the important language. including the transport to terrorist roots or other state and nonstate actors of chemical or biological weapons. this is something we are genuinely concerned about. not that assad -- not just that assad might transfer the at that weapons, but moment when he is out of power, that the transfer be taking place as well. in takinge included out the generalized respond paragraph, is the specific language that says the president is authorized to use military force to prevent he transferred to terrorist groups within syria of any weapons of mass destruction, etc. we -- is there any other member who wishes to be heard on this? >> mr. chairman. >> senator johnson.
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first of all, i appreciate senator durbin's proposed amendment. this is similar to what i was trying to accomplish with my own amendment where i had a fourth point, to secure and prevent the transfer of chemical weapons stockpiles. i would like to ask senator durbin, i believe this encompasses about the same thing. i am very supportive because i believe one of the primary reasons if not the primary reason that the events in syria pose a national security threat to the unit is its is those chemical weapons stockpiles and those possibly being transferred to enemies of the united dates. i would like to work with you and be assured that this does the exact same thing that i was trying to do with my amendment. >> i think we are on the same track. the testimony we heard in this room was that the french have
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analyzed the situation and believe that assad has 1000 tons of chemical agents and weapons including several hundred tons of sarin. he may be in the chemical weapons world, a superpower. we don't want him to use those within his own country but we also don't want him to put those on the block or transfer them to enemies of the united states. i think we are on the same track. >> let me also say, my amendment may be goes further. in section three, where we limit -- authorization and use basically boots on the ground for the purpose of combat operations, i do accept as required under my authorization. basically, recognizing that if the president has to secure those weapons, that that would require ground troops.
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>> i think you are into a new territory there. >> possibly, but i think your language implies the same thing. >> let me turn to senator corker. >> first of all i want to thank both of you for bringing this issue up. i wonder if we might resolve the concern that each of you have by , under section two, paragraph a, article one, where it says respond, if we can insert, respond in a limited manner. and then, use language that senator durbin has drafted as the fourth section of this, the fourth article down at the bottom. leave out the part including chemical, biological weapons or components used in such weapons, so that you have a fourth portion that says, prevent the transfer to terrorist groups or other actors within syria of any weapons of mass destruction, so we hit the point that the two of
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you are trying to address and we are limiting the response that senator durbin is concerned, maybe too broad. >> i asked the senator from tennessee what he envisions by that phrase, respond in a limited manner? >> what i envision is that we would respond in a limited manner. i don't know if i can clarify. i know that you're trying to tighten and i appreciate that very much. a big portion of our time has .een to make this specified i do think, on the other hand, the essence of what we are doing here is in response to what is happening with weapons of mass destruction. i guess i am trying to address both needs here. >> the only thing i would say to
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the senator from tennessee is, everything i have imagined in my mind that we do with military force could not be characterized as limited. it is going to be a powerful response by our country to what we view as a danger to the people of syria, to the world. i don't want to get lost in the language here. i think this is a friendly amendment you are offering, but respond in a limited manner, it still leaves me uncertain as to what we are trying to say. may, senator durbin, what is the preface here is the president is authorized subject to use thesection armed forces of the united states as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in a limited and specified manner against legitimate military respondin syria only to
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to the use of weapons of mass destruction by the government of syria. what is it, i am trying to grasp, what is it about the language there that is troublesome to you? >> compare the other two paragraphs, two and three. the terror the use -- deter the use of weapons of mass destruction. is linked to the use of weapons of mass destruction. respond, i think is so generic and so general that it can include any military action which would be a response, but it is not a response limited to the future use of this weapons. what if that first paragraph were to read, only to deter and degrade the use of weapons of
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mass destruction by the government of syria? >> that would be repetitive but it wouldn't be and consistent -- inconsistent. you could accept that. >> i can accept that if we can add the fourth paragraph that senator corker has talked about and senator johnson and i discussed, the prevention of transport of these weapons to terrorist groups. entire phrase the stated, or is it good enough to prevent the transfer to terrorist groups -- >> i think that is sufficient. the language i have goes on to explain that but you use weapons of mass destruction. yours is sufficient. concern thatte the you have, senator durbin. this is the core of the authorization in this particular
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language. i want to make sure that we get it right. would the with this signature withholds on this with a commitment from me to work with them in a leadership to deal with this? i assume there will be at some point a manager's package or a replacement of this. i get what you want to do and i am in sympathy, i just want to make sure we do not undermine the core of the authorization we are trying to achieve. >> as an alternative, if we leave paragraph one untouched, where it says respond, with the possibility that we will have a manager's amendment, but add paragraph four? >> that would be something that would be acceptable.
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we would leave paragraph one as is and we would add a paragraph or where we would say prevent the transfers of terrorist groups. >> i accept that. >> i will agree with the compromise, but i would hope that includes looking at the language. this is too broad. every time the president has been asking for this power -- i would hope what we could look at that language and i am confident the leadership will take a look at it. >> i am committed to working with the senator.
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for now, this would help us to get to a responsible place. senator durbin, your amendment would be amended to say, at a paragraph four under section 2a that would read, prevent the transfer to terrorist groups of any weapons of mass destruction. >> mr. chairman, this is very similar to my amendment. there would be a d, making the same point. it is under section 2b. to make the exact same point. it repeats the authorization.
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i would also note. i've listened to the administration and they have been talking about holding the assad regime accountable. that is the first goal. you may want to consider that. i think you need -- preventing the transfer in two different places. i would be satisfied not to offer my amendment. >> i am sorry, staff was in my ear. i am trying to make sure we get this language straight.
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could you tell me specifically what you want to add on? >> we are adding a paragraph four to section -- we would use the exact same language under b5 d is what we would add. >> mr. chairman, i have no objection to that. >> it would be a restatement. >> if the u.s. has a military plan to achieve the specific goals of -- >> i will withdraw my amendment if that is the case. >> i think that is acceptable. any other member who wishes to speak? >> i want to make sure this
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authorization is narrow and specific. his concerns about a1 were well- founded and the amendment he has offered makes sense. our ultimate goal is a negotiated resolution. >> i agree. mr. chairman, i think senator johnson would like to cosponsor the durbin amendment. >> we have the durbin amendment as amended by senator durbin to have paragraph four and further amended by senator johnson as per suggestions made 5d. is there anyment.
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other senator that wishes to be heard? all those in favor will say i? the eyes have it. have it.es >> thank you, chairman. i would offer amendment number one, it is eight pages back in the handout that has been given out to the members. i am proposing to amend section two to clarify that the president does not have a blank check to launch any type of attack. it would only authorize naval and air base strikes outside of
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syrian territory if the president determines it to be necessary. it will help to dress the concerns i have heard from the mexicans and the american people that this narrow strike will lead to further involvement. a bombing campaign involving u.s. planes puts u.s. personnel in harm's way and dramatically increases the risk that this conflict could escalate. this language reflects what the president has asked for. when we have resolutions that are too broad, they get taken away too far. with that, i would offer the amendment and asked for a vote. >> this is micromanagement that
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is not only unnecessary, but we really cannot tell the president of the united states what tactics that he has to employ. we can place limitations on certain broad activities or efforts on the part of the president, but we really do not have the expertise here to know exactly what kind of attack should be launched or not be launched. i understand the senator from new mexico's caution about this entire enterprise, but if we start down this road, we will be running the campaign from here. as smart as we are, i do not think we are that smart. >> i am sympathetic to the view expressed in this amendment by senator udall. i believe that any amendment -- i believe it would be a mistake
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for the senate to tie the president's hands by having to dictate the specific military tactics he can and cannot use to complete the mission. the language already limits the geographic scope of the mission to syria, focuses the mission on addressing the use of chemical weapons. limits the time frame and rules out the use of ground forces for combat operations. i appreciate the senator's concern, but the chair would have to oppose the amendment. does the senator seek a recorded vote? >> yes. >> the clerk will call the roll. [roll call vote]
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>> the amendment is not agreed to. are there any other amendments? if not, all amendments having been considered, [inaudible] absolutely. having dispensed with all of the amendments, let us proceed to a final vote on the use of force >> chairman? >> i do not have an amendment. i would certainly entertain the senator's request. the senator has hung in here with us despite the advent of the jewish holidays.
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if any other senator wishes to address it, i would urge them to. >> thank you. this issue is of concern. the inclusion of the broader issue of u.s. policy and national strategy on syria. this is a concern that i share. i would argue that section five of the resolution on syria's strategy does not belong in this resolution as it ranges well beyond the issue of deterring and degrading the chemical weapons attacks capacity and
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their ability to launch a future attack. in addition, since this requirement is directly linked to the presidential determination required under sections, it raises the question whether the 30 day reports becomes a mechanism for dragging the u.s. further into the middle of the syrian civil war. it is not something the president talked about in terms of what we need. i just wanted to make that statement. >> i ask unanimous consent to allow committee staff to make technical changes to the text. any objection? so ordered. i moved to vote on passage of the resolution. is there a second?
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the clerk will call the roll. >> [roll call vote]
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>> the clerk will report. i> the resolution is agreed to. thank all of the committee members for their serious engagement in this process. i stand ready to have any member who wishes to make a statement for the record. >> thank you. to the record, i would like state the following. what is happening in syria is of vital national consideration. syria is followed way -- a serious far away.
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it matters for several regions. they use. to arm hezbollah. they use it to traffic weapons, to destabilize iraq. anti-americanous dictator. third, this prolonged conflict is creating vast spaces which are creating jihadist to operate. assad does not face consequences for what he has done, and is doing, it sends a message to north korea and iran that they can costs -- cross redlines without fear. those who argue it is none of our business are wrong. i have urged the president to pursue a more robust gauge meant -- a robust engagement. however, while i have long
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argued forcefully for an engagement and empowering the syrian people, i have never supported the use of military force in this conflict. i still don't. i remain unconvinced that the use of force proposed here will work. the only thing that will prevent him from using the chemical work -- chemical weapons in the future is to have the steering people remove him from power. s thatot believe further goal. i believe it may prove to be counter productive. to claimllow assad they took on the united states and survived. it could unleash a series of events that could destabilize the region. this idea that a military response is the only way to respond to what is happening in syria is not true. instead, our spot should have always been a multifaceted plan --help the syrian people
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this committee has already put forth a plan that accomplishes that. the syrian transition support act. it would openly provide non-with the support and increase non- later support. to carefully that elements of the opposition. we should only do this if we are able to identify rebel groups that will not transfer those weapons. second, we would pursue sanctions against individuals and financial institutions that have provided or facilitated the sale of weapons to assad. we should create a transition funds that will assist a transition to a moderate transitional government in syria. fourth, we should increase humanitarian aid to syrian people.
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let me close by recognizing that there is a movement afoot in both parties to disengage the united states from issues throughout the world. it is true that we cannot solve every crisis on the planet, but if we follow the advice of those who seek to disengage with global issues, we will pay a terrible price. america is not just another country. it is an exceptional one. the most influential, the most powerful, and the most inspirational on earth. we must recognize the world is a safer place when america is the strongest country in the world. when america doesn't lead, chaos follows. eventually, that chaos forces us to deal with these problems in the most expensive and in the most dangerous ways imaginable. just because we ignore global problems doesn't mean they will ignore us. they become bigger and harder to solve. cre is just the latest example of that fundamental truth. how do we forcefully engage,
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today we would have more and better options before us. theead, the president with support of voices in my party chose to let others lead instead. now, we are dealing with the consequences of the and action. thank you. >> thank you senator rubio. >> i have a longer statement i will submit to the record. i just wanted to be clear this afternoon that the decision to take military action is not one that i take lightly. but, failing to take action against assad's regime and their use of chemical weapons poses a real threat to our national security interest. i understand that there are a ,ot of people in new hampshire my home state, and throughout this country who are world-weary a concerned about the consequences of the use of military force read i share those concerns.
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i do believe that we have to act to deter the spread and use of weapons of mass destruction. i believe this limited military action that we have authorized will deter the assad regime. . this resolution that was passed by the committee is limited in time and scope. it does not authorize american troops on the ground. i believe this type of targeted appropriate response will best protect our national security interest. thank you. >> thank you. your statement will be in the record. >> thank you, mr. chairman. let me thank you. you have done a masterful job in dealing with one of the most challenging issues that we could possibly consider. i have listened to this debate. i cannot tell you how many times i've harken back to 12 years
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ago. the debate over the war in iraq. maybe that is one of the curses of being in congress for a while. some of these go still rattle around the halls of the united states congress. there is a clear difference between what we are considering today and what happened to of years ago. our decision is being made in the shadow of the war of iraq, with the specter of a war in iran looming. the shadow rick rolls moment 12 years ago when the government of the united states america was guilty of political mortal sin. it misled the american people into a war. it told the american people that we had to invade iraq to destroy weapons of mass destruction, which threatens our neighbors, allies, and ourselves. it wasn't true. we learned that the hard way. we paid a bitter, heavy price for it. thousands of americans lost
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their lives. more than a trillion dollars was spent in a war that should've been avoided. that was the reality of the war in iraq. on it's heels, the war in afghanistan. i voted against that war in iraq and for the authorization for the use of force in afghanistan. that seemed like such a clear choice. in afghanistan, we're going after those responsible for 9/11 . responsible for killing 3000 innocent americans. of course we would. no one strikes united states and kills our people without paying a price. i voted for it. i did not the time, no one could have known that i was voting for the longest war in american history. voting for an authorization for use of military force which took that president and many others to far-flung corners of the world in pursuit of stopping terrorism. i think that is what is behind the american people's reluctance to see the united states engage in additional conflict in the
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middle east. this bitter memory of what happened in iraq, when we were misled, and this long war in afghanistan, which the president now brings to close. i think this is different. i really do. i believe that there is a moral component here that is critically important. i listen to senator rubio. he is) the -- the united states bear the responsibility. placed into the world. we try to be a leader when it comes to civilized conduct. when it comes to the use of weapons of mass destruction, particularly chemical weapons, the nine states must take a strong position, and try to leave the world into a civilized path to avoid the use of these weapons in the future. the president is my friend. i was the first senator to endorse him for president. for 14 months, i was the only
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one. his time came in iowa. he became our nominee and president of the united states. i'm proud of him. i respect them. i know him better than most any person in this town. thispresident come -- president doesn't come easily to war. he understands that there are moments when a leader, a commander in chief, to protect this country has to step up and lead. that is what he has done here. this last saturday, i was with many of his friends anyone knowing. his friends in illinois. they do not agree with the president at this moment, and his policy in syria. he understands that. a true leader has to step up and do what he thinks is right. that is why joined him today. i think we have narrowly defined what is the ministration and president can do for purpose that serves beyond our own peace and security. a good for the whole world.
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i hope the message comes through on this committee meeting and the floor of the senate and the house. this congress, democrats and republicans, resolute when it comes to discouraging and stopping the spread of chemical weapons and weapons of mass destruction. if united states and not take this leadership role, i do not know who would. i want to say that i think -- i take seriously the president's promise we will not be putting boots on the ground in syria. i have been to too many funerals to ever want to see us do that again, except when absolutely necessary for america's survival. i think the we have done today is a step in the right direction. i hope that makes it a safer world. >> thank you. is there any other member who wishes to be heard? >> thank you. i would like to thank my colleagues on the committee for the way that this debate has been conducted. as secretary kerry said to us,
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it is important not just what we decide as a body, but how we decided. i think the cautious and thorough discussion of this authorization is one that meets the expectations of the american people. the outcome is unpredictable , but is aartisanship reflection of the values and the insights of each member of this committee. as it moves to a debate, i continue to be mindful that i represent a state that is weary of war. the conflict in iraq brings to the fourth. i have revealed in detail the has usednce offered chemical weapons. likely repeatedly.
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the attack two weeks ago in the damascus suburbs massacred more than 1000 innocent civilians, and given the steady rising crescendo in deaths over the last two years that has graduated from using snipers and helicopters, and using cluster bombs and scud missiles. in the absence of action to reinforce a global red line that -- assad will use these weapons again. we will be less safe. persuaded the risks of inaction are greater. this is a difficult debate. i believe we will have more on the -- more to discuss on the floor of the senate.
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it is my hope that we will ultimately approve this authorization. this is not an act that i take with any lightness of heart, and with a full recognition of the potential of difficulties ahead. thank you. >> thank you. let me thank you and senator corker for your efforts to revise the reauthorization of force that was submitted for the ministration for the dignified process you followed, and how you shepherded it along. this authorization of force is an improvement over what was originally proposed by the -- but at this point, i do not see how i can support it. how i can support it in the future. i want to repeat that i'm horrified by what assad has done to his own people.
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he has committed a heinous act and a violation of the geneva convention. no doubt about it. however, i believe that this proposal is the wrong course of action for the united states. i am voting no because this policy moves united states towards greater involvement in the syrian sell the war, and an increasing regional conflict. this is a complicated sectarian civil war. some of the rebel share our values. they wanted open society. many others are allied with al qaeda and a greater threat to united states and president assad ever was. u.s. military involvement, no matter the limits at this point, will likely only pull us towards greater involvement. with no clear in game. i remain concerned that we have not sufficiently made our case internationally. as i said yesterday, our attention should be on the source of assad's ability to
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continue to ruthlessly kill his own people. that is support from nations, including fresh and china, which are cynically trying to hold the high moral ground. assad would not able to maintain his grip on power if he were not being supported from outside. the full force of the international outrage should come down on those nations that are refusing to allow the u.n. to act and find a solution. instead, an attack on assad puts us on shaking legal ground internationally. just as the president get stronger with congressional support, we are much stronger with international support. we do not have the support of some of our key allies. we cannot achieve a u.n. mandate. our recent history should serve to make us very cautious. vietnam started with u.s. advisors and a limited naval presence.
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it led to an all-out war, and a quagmire that cost lives of thousands of u.s. service members. the iraq war began as an international effort to kick saddam hussein out of kuwait. as we all know, this action eventually led to what is one of the greatest blunders in u.s. military history. we cannot afford another a rack -- another i rock -- another iraq. finally, i want to say that we should not take it likely -- we should not take it likely that the american people are not with us. i've received hundreds of calls and letters from the mexicans. i have talked to scores myself over the last couple of weeks, and i neighbors of the calls and letters have been opposed to escalating.
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americans are tired of war. their worry about the stress it puts on our economy. their worry about the safety of our troops. their husbands, wives, sons, daughters. they know what the ministration is proposing will provide assurance that assad will not attack again. that it will not ensure the history -- that his regime on not retaliate in some way. the truth is we cannot guarantee that even a surgical strike will prevent the united states from being embroiled in war. we should not enter into a conflict until we have exhausted every diplomatic and international option. we have not done that. arerisk of the inactions we contemplating now are too great. i cannot support this proposal. again, i think senator menendez and senator corker. you of led a national effort here.
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it shows the good work we can have in this committee. i thank you for trying to mediate the concerns that i have had in this language. they queue, and appreciated. i yield back. >> i appreciate your views. senator murphy. >> i want to add my thanks to that of senator myrdal's. debate inady for this large part because we have been talking about syria and the threat that the instability poses to the united states all year. i want to express my thanks to the administration for being so deliberative in this process. this president has brought that -- this president has been reluctant to bring conflict. it reflects a reluctance of the american public. i may differ today with respective his view on the mediate subject in hand, by appreciated fact that he has been careful in reaching the conclusion he has today.
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i voted against this authorization today because i think there are two questions that you have to ask when considering whether to use military force. -- whetherher in there is a national security imperative. i think that secretary kerry and the president have made that case well over the past several days. there is no one on this committee that doesn't believe what assad has done to his people is not atrocious. there are few of us that don't believe he hasn't crossed an international red line. i would agree that what happened in theory is important to national security interests. the second question i think we all are asking is are the methods that we have before us to change a situation going to be effective? are they going to make things better for the syrian people and for security interest, or could they make things worse?
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that is what leads to my no vote today. i cannot answer that second question in the affirmative. first, there is a chance that the strikes could actually make the situation worse on the ground in the short run. i will briefly read a paragraph written by stephen cook my senior fellow at the council on foreign relations. he said in the face of an attack, some will remain defined. he would step up the balance to exert control in his country and to demonstrate united states and allies cannot intimidate him. the regimes supporters would increase their investment in the conflict, meaning more weapons and fighters, report -- supporters. more this environment would heighten serious substantial divisions, pulling the country par. secretary said the only thing we know that if we do nothing the situation will continue to deteriorate.
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this sounds even worse. everyone has come to different conclusions. i simply believe the risks of action today outweigh the risks of inaction. commits congressional support forming the syrian rebels, i worry that we have now committed ourselves to a level of support that will have to endure past the fall of the -- past the following assad. given the commitments were making today, ill be difficult for the american government to untie her ourselves from support for the opposition and they follow one government because of this resolution. i know none of us want to be involved in a long-term conflict . i worry that the resolution and authorization would make it difficult for us to avoid that reality. i thank you for the work you have done.
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i think this language is much better than what was composed to us from the ministration. i oppose not because i do not gag every time i look at those photos of children who have been killed by assad in his lethal attack. i have deep concerns about the limits of american power. comments.ou for your i respect them. >> i extend my thanks to you for this process. i am impressed by the thought of my colleagues as i've listened to the debate and talk to them in these committee hearings. i also expressed my appreciation to the administration. it took courage to bring this matter to congress prepared them to do so. it is the right thing to do for a variety of reasons. to me, i think the principle that has grabbed me the most and is limited support this was the
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principal you elaborated yesterday in your opening statement before the committee. the basic fundamental principle that at the top of the pyramid, of the relationship of nations, there is not a more principal then weapons of mass destruction. not to be used against civilian populations without a consequence. if it of any other international norm. there are a lot of important ones. there's not a more important one in this. there is american writer that wrote a book about the making of the atomic bomb. is a chapter toward war one and the development of chemical weapons technologies that were used during public -- during world war i. they went to a fraction of the casualties. it is an amazing thing to think back to the aftermath of world war i and the nations of the world gathering and said that there is something different about chemical weapons. they passed through the geneva convention immediately ratified
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by the native state and soviet union. syria ratified in 1968. a ban on the use of chemical weapons. not just against civilians. a ban on the use of chemical weapons. protected --on has this is protected serviceman known chemical weapons would not be used against them. my fear is that if the united states does not stand up for the principal the chemical weapons cannot be used, especially against civilians, no one will step up. a 90 years of international law, it they moral imperative, will be cast into the dust because the night it saves is going to be unwilling to play a leadership role. if we play a leadership role, we have partners who play that role with us read if we do not lay leadership role, i do not think there is anyone who will stand
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up for the principle. i would agree with senator udall's point that we wish we had more partners than we do. that is an indictment of united nation and other nations quaking before this flagrant violation of this moral principle. their partners are willing to stand up for the principle with us. i fear for the world if we are not willing to stand up, no one is. i voted for this because i think it is important for us to stand , they that principle chemical weapons should not be used against civilians. we will give our allies safer. we would keep our nation safer. the authorization we voted for today stresses that military action is authorized by it is only one piece of a larger strategy. it president is required pursuant to the terms of what we have reported that he certified first priority use of military action of the united states using to my neck and peaceful means to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction.
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that diplomacy and it might effort is ongoing right now. at the u.n. as we're talking about this manner on the floor of the senate. i hope passing this resolution 12 arrested president to use military force to enforce this important international norm, i hoped it might efforts will continue. if s word to decide -- it's eerie were to decide -- if they were to turn their stockpiles exciters,ternational and engage in the community, those will be the kind that might efforts that are contemplated by the authorization that we passed. at dinner the day this is about such an important principle. it is a heavy vote to have to cast. all of us are hearing from our we do not want our
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men and women in the military to 70 be faced with can make weapons. -- chemical weapons. this is a principle that has been part of the fabric of our collective imagination as humanity for 90 years. only hitler and saddam hussein had violated this convention until now. hitler violated it and the world dedicated itself to eradicating him and the third right from the face of the earth. hussein violated it and tore detriment, we did not act immediately. we did act as an international community by deciding to be that the 1920's convention. we strengthen the norm against the use of chemical weapons round the world with so many nations, including russia signing onto it. not stand up for the principle, no one else will. this.at reason, i support
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i'm glad his report to the floor. -- ik forward to looking look for to work with our colleagues to make sure it passes. a lome thank you for thoughtful statement. there is a reason the united states is the one indispensable nation in the world. it is a heavy burden. it is also an opportunity to leave the world to a safer, more secure world. i believe we have met that burden today. i believe that we will do so as we move to the senate floor. this meeting now comes to adjournment. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013]
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>> the senate foreign relations committee voted 10-74 resolution authorizing military force against the syrian government. five democrats and two republicans voted against the measure. the authorization of force resolution would be one of the first thing congress considers when they return from summer recess on monday. they will consider a temporary spending measure to keep the federal government operating after the end of the fiscal year . we will have live coverage on the house and the senate on c- span2. at a discussion about the syrian civil war, elizabeth [indiscernible] talk about how the syrian opposition views the --
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>> from the opposition standpoint, there are a lot of expectations. many of the groups went all the way as to actually plan operations, reallocate resources to count for strikes. they have been offset. there is confusion about the potential of the u.s. strike, with that attack would have, and how the opposition should respond to it. that explains the comets come in from the opposition that are not always in agreement with each other. there is a real sense of confusion given the promises that were made and the quotations they had. going back to this idea that the opposition is wary of limited
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strikes to the degree that you see commanders coming out openly saying if you're going to give them a slip on the wrist, don't do it. it needs to be something that looks at degrading the military capability. and actually helps them. a focus onree, it is a more copperheads a strategy because of the likely consequences that a smaller attack would have. my own personal opinion, this is not based on the opposition, but even a punitive strike at this point could have a psychological impact on the civilian population. that i'velization seen develop over time was actually stopped for some time because of developments in syria . it is starting up again as
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chemical weapons being used and there is no response. my own personal opinion is that if there is nothing else, and i do not agree with a limited strike, if there is nothing else, the psychological impact is important at this point. moving quickly through the opposition, who are the opposition? what are they stand for? let me say that circumstances are fluid. i have traveled there frequently. when you're talking about the opposition, and who is in power, you have to look at it based on transactional legitimacy. frankly, there was a great threat coming from the islamic state of iraq. this has forced the opposition to come together in ways that
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haven't before. on my most recent trip, i witnessed much more cohesive organization. much more cohesive alliance than i have ever seen the past. there is active communication attempts to come to agreement on a joint strategy, together working on plans. you do see some level of organization at a provisional level. we have not seen anything at a national level. is a directnk it response to the threat moving in
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. part of this is speaking to the program is underway. i cannot emphasize enough the impact that support coming from u.s. allies has had on creating and empower opposition. we are beginning to seeing known programsll that are moving in, we have seen what is funny and resource support can do for creating an empowering and water opposition. to the degree where they are not only willing -- not only more effective, but are able to come together cohere in ways that have not been able to do. in the past, one of the reasons why you have seen such a huge
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dominance of these groups is because of the resources. the civilian population is not been receptive to the extremist groups. access, and have been able to leverage that to be more dominant than they would have otherwise. once he really began to see the more moderate forces, we have already seen every positive impact on the ground as a result. >> on the next washington journal, the former advisor to chuck hagel on the resolution authorizing force in syria. the conversation on u.s. russia at the center for
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strategic and international studies. washington journal is live every morning at 7:00 eastern. >> the ring of this bill announces opening of thanksgiving -- >> it seemed to me just a shame we came here to find hardly any thing of the past in a house. columbia, theo presidential palace there has all the history of the company -- has all the history that country in it. it has some link with the past. i think the white house should be like that. concerned, aswere first ladies, and a citizens of the world, we pledge to do all
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that is possible to stop the scourge. >> season two of our series, first ladies influence and image. calls, facebook comments, and tweets.>> this hearing wil >> at today's house foreign affairs committee, they presented their case for military strikes on syria. the president asked congress to authorize airstrikes in response to the syrian government use of chemical weapons on civilians. members question secretary of state, john kerry, and chuck hagel, and martin didn't see. this is four hours.
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[no audio] >> this hearing will come to order. i am going to ask the members if you could take your seat at this time. welcome, secretary kerry. today, we meet to wait the obama administration's proposed response to the syrian regime's odious use of chemical weapons. i want to thank secretary kerry, secretary hagel, and chairman dempsey for appearing. i want to thank the members for attending this hearing on short notice. the president's decision to seek an authorization of military
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force from congress was not anticipated, but it was welcome. this committee has no greater responsibility than overseeing the deployment and use of the united states armed forces. since the administration of president john adams, congress has acted several times to authorize the use of met - military force by the president. one thing different here is the administration proposal supports the u.s. military response against a country in civil war. needless to say, this complicates the consideration. i think we are all troubled by the unfortunate lack of international support. although the proposed action aims to upholding international norm, or is no united nations resolution of support nor nato backing. as we will hear today, the president views striking the syrian regime is a way to
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strengthen deterrence against the future use of chemical weapons by assad and by others. that is in important consideration. countries like iran are watching. and yes, a credible threat is key to putting the brakes on iran's nuclear program. there are concerns. the president from this is a military operation in syria of limited scope and duration. but the assad regime will have a say in what happens next. that would be particularly true as president obama is not aiming to change the situation on the ground. what are the chances of escalation? are different scenarios accounted for? if our credibility is on the line now, as is argued, what about if assad retaliates?
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americans are skeptical about getting near a conflict that, as one witness has noted, is fueled by an historic, ethnic, and tribal issues. the administration policy does not build confidence. for nearly two years, u.s. policy has been adrift. initially the obama administration saw assad as a reformer. once the revolt started, it back to you when diplomacy and then it that on the moscow how is he and that russia would play a constructive role. predictably that has not worked. president obama drew in his words a red line, and yet only last week did the administration begin to consult with congress on what that means. today the house begins formal consideration of the president's request to use military force in
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syria. it is a cliché, but true. there are no easy answers. syria and much of the middle east is watching. we look forward to a thorough and deliver it discussion today, one reflecting the gravity of the issue and i will now turn to ranking member engel, who has been ringing the alarm bell on syria for long, long time. ranking member engle from new york. >> thank you for holding this hearing today. secretary kerry, welcome. i look forward to a hearing which addresses the syrian regime's use of chemical weapons, a serious risk to the united states and our allies. many of you know i have been following the middle east for many years but in particular i have spent an enormous amount of time on syria.
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the syria accountability act of 2003, which i authored, imposed sanctions on damascus in large part due to its chemical weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. in march of this year, i introduced a bipartisan bill that would authorize the president to arms fully vetted members of the syrian opposition. when i talk about serious, i am talking from years of experience, hours of hearings, and scores of meeting. mr. chairman, we have all seen the pictures of lifeless syrian men, women, and children. 400 children lined up under white sheets. these innocent civilians were killed by sarin gas, a deadly nerve agent classified as a
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weapon of mass distraction by the u.n. security council and outlawed by the chemical weapons convention of 1993. they have also concluded beyond a reasonable doubt the assad regime is responsible for the use of these horrific weapons. i strongly agree with president obama that the united states must respond to this flagrant deletion of international law with a limited military strike to deter the further use of chemical weapons and degrade the assad regime's ability to use them again. the threat we face is much bigger than chemical weapons in
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syria. we are talking about the credibility of america as a global power. we are talking about sending a clear message to dictators in iran and pyongyang that there will be serious consequences for flouting the international community. iran in particular is watching very carefully to see if the united states is willing to stand up for its vital interests in the region and the interest of our allies. they are a central player in the syrian civil war, providing weapons, money, advice, and manpower to the assad regime, and supporting the intervention of the terrorist proxy hezbollah. they are moving ahead with developing nuclear weapons capability. i believe that congress must authorize the commander-in-chief to use limited military force against the assad regime, and i hope my colleagues will join me in authorizing. but we should not give the president a blank check. the authorization measure we take up most clarify any strike should be of a limited nature and there should absolutely be no american boots on the ground in syria. while it is critically important for the u.s. to hold the assad regime accountable for the use of chemical weapons, you must
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focus on developing a strategy to address the ongoing humanitarian crisis, support a regional partners, and ultimately find the path or word that brings lasting peace to the syrian people. as i mentioned earlier, in march i introduced the bipartisan free syria act. i continue to believe that the moderate opposition is key to syria's future and we should make all efforts to support them as soon as possible. i know many members on both sides of the aisle are struggling with this issue of using force in syria. we are all trying to do the right thing for our constituents, for our country, and for our national security. questions of war and peace are always difficult and i am proud that we are treating them with
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the utmost seriousness in this committee. but a day before we take any vote, i urge my colleagues to ask themselves these questions. if we do not pass the authorization measure, what message will assad get? what message will iran receive? hezbollah? our allies? we have to live up to our commitments. mr. chairman, i would like to thank you for calling this important hearing and i look forward to secretary kerry and the testimony of our other distinguished witnesses. >> thank you, mr. engel. we are pleased to be joined by secretary kerry. shortly we will be joined by the secretary of defense and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. prior to his appointment, he was in the senate, and without objection, the witness statements, those of senator kerry and secretary hagel and
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general dempsey will be made part of the record. members here will have five days to submit statements and questions and extraneous material for the record. and i would like to note, members, that we have a nearly full committee here with us today, and therefore we need to work within the time constraints we have. we are going to ask all members to be mindful of that time are as you ask questions, so we will begin now with secretary kerry's testimony. mr. secretary? >> mr. chairman, thank you very much. ranking member engel, as the chairman said, an early congressional leader on syria. and to all members of the committee. i have enormous respect for the fact that everybody has returned
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unexpectedly and hurriedly to be part of this debate and on behalf of the administration and the american people, i thank you for doing so. i know it is no exaggeration to say the world is not just watching to see what we decide here, but the world is really watching to see how we decide it. frankly, whether or not we can still make, achieve a single voice speaking for the united states of america, congress, and the president of the united states. they want to know whether or not america is going to rise to this moment, whether or not we will express our position with the unity this moment demands. the question of whether or not
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to authorize force, as the chairman referenced my 28 years now, i had a number of occasions to make those votes in the number of other occasions to make judgments on presidents who acted without coming to congress. i found that we were and are always stronger when we can act together. first and foremost, i think it is important to explain to the american people why we are here. and i don't think it can bear enough repetition as people grapple with this at the end of summer, post-labor day, kids going back to school, and a lot of other concerns on their mind. we are here because against the multiple warnings from the president and the united states, warnings from congress, many of you, warnings from friends and allies, and even warnings from
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russia and iran that chemical weapons are out of bounds, against all of that the assad regime, and only undeniably the assad regime, unleashed an outrageous chemical attack against its own citizens. we are here because a dictator and his family's enterprise, which is what it is, unleashed a poison in damascus that killed mothers and fathers and children, their lives all snuffed out a gas during the early morning hours of august 21. some people in a few places, amazingly, against all the evidence, have questioned whether or not this assault on conscience actually took lace. and i repeat again here today, unequivocably, only the most
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willful desire to avoid reality, almost the most devious political purpose could assert this did not occur as described or that the regime did not do it. it did happen. and the bashar al-assad regime did it. i remember iraq. secretary hagel and general density both were member it. secretary hagel and i both voted in the united states senate. both of us are especially sensitive to never again asking any member of congress to vote on faulty intelligence. that is why our intelligence
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community took time. that is why the president took time, to make certain of the facts in this case and to declassify unprecedented amount of information in order to scrub and re-scrub the evidence and present the facts to the american people, and especially to the congress. and through you to the american people. we have declassified unprecedented amount of information. some of it, i might add, because that might have been the instinct in protecting sources, and some of it leaked. after it leaked, we thought it was born to verify whether it was true or not. by now you have heard a great deal from me and others in the administration about the comprehensive evidence we have gathered. i am not going to go into it all right now.
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i'm happy to discuss it further if any of you have any questions. i can tell you beyond a reasonable doubt -- and i used to prosecute cases. i ran one of the largest district attorney's offices in america. i can tell you beyond a reasonable doubt that the evidence proves the assad regime prepared this attack and they attacked exclusively opposition- controlled or contested territories. at some point in an appropriate setting you will learn additional evidence which came to us even today, which further documents the acknowledgment of various friends of the assad regime that they know that this happened. our evidence proves that they used sarin gas that morning and it proves they used some of the world's most heinous weapons to kill more than 1400 innocent people including at least 426 children.
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i'm sure many of you have seen the images yourselves. the men and women, the elderly, and children sprawled on a hospital floor, no wounds, no blood, in chaos and desperation around them. none of which could possibly have been contrived. all of that was real. we have the evidence. we know what happened. there is no question. this would meet the standard i which we send people to jail for the rest of their lives. so, we are here because of what happens. but we are also here, not just the cause of what happened two weeks ago. we are here because of what happened nearly a century ago. when in the darkest moments of world war i, after the horror of gas warfare, when the majority
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of the world came together to declare in no uncertain terms that chemical weapons crossed a line of conscience, and that they must be banned. and over the years that followed, more than 180 countries -- 184 to be precise. including iran, iraq, and russia joined. even countries with whom we agree on very little else agreed on this. some have tried to suggest the debate we are having today is about this president's redlined, that this is about president obama's redline. let me make it as clear as i can to all of you. that is just not true. this is about the world's red line. it is about humanity's red line. a line that anyone with a conscience should rot and a line that was drawn nearly 100 years ago when the chemical weapons convention was agreed on. this debate, i might add to you, is also about congress's red
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line. you agreed to the chemical weapons convention. not all of you were here to vote for it, but the congress agreed to that. the congress asked the syrian accountability act, which congressman engel referred to an altered. the act says clearly "syria's chemical weapons threaten the security of the middle east and the national security interest of the united states." repeatedly members of congress have spoken out about the grave consequences if assad in particular were to use chemical weapons. and both speaker boehner and nancy pelosi have stated in
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recent days that the actions of the assad regime are unacceptable and the united states has the responsibility to respond. as we debate, the world is watching and the world is wondering. not if assad's regime actually did this. i think that fact is now beyond question. the world is wondering whether the united states of america is going to consent through silence to stand aside while this kind of brutality is allowed to happen without consequence. in the nearly 100 years since this global commitment against chemical weapons was made, only two tyrants have dared to cross the line. bashar al-assad has become the third. history, i think everyone here knows, old nothing but infamy for those criminals, and history also reserves very little sympathy for their enablers. that is the gravity of this moment. that is really what is at stake
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in this decision the congress faces. syria, bottom line, is important to america and our security for many reasons. first, you can't overlook the danger that these weapons, as you said in the syrian accountability act, post to our allies and our friends. you cannot overlook the danger they pose even to the united states ultimately if they fall into the wrong hands or are used with impunity. since president obama's policy is that assad must go, it is not insignificant that to degrade assad's chemical weapons degrades his ability in this civil war. we have a strategic national interest to read not just limiting the proliferation of
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chemical weapons, but to avoid the creation of a safe haven for extremists to use these chemical weapons, either against us or against our friends, forcing assad to changes calculation about the ability to ask with impunity. it may force his realization that he cannot gas or shoot his way out of his predicament. syria is also important because quite simply -- and i cannot say this strongly enough to all of you. many of you are parents. you know how lessons are learned by children. many of you may have confronted at one point of bully on the block or in a building.
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i think quite simply common sense and human experience and reality tell us that the risk of not acting is greater than the risk of acting. if we do not take a stand here today, i guarantee you we are more likely to face up or greater risks to our security and a far greater likelihood of conflict that demand our action in the future. why? because we, as confidently as we know what happened in damascus on august 21, we know that assad will read our silence, our unwillingness to act as a signal he can use his weapons with impunity. after all has been said and done, if we don't now, knowing he has done this at least 11 times that our intelligence community can prove, and here in this grotesque larger event, larger than anything that has
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happened before, it we back down, if the world backs down, we have sent an unmistakable message of permissiveness. iran, i guarantee you, is hoping we look the other way. and surely they will interpret america's unwillingness to act as an unwillingness to act against weapons of mass destruction. and we will fight for the credibility to deter the creation of a nuclear weapon. north korea is hoping for ambivalence from the congress. they are all listening for our silence. so, the authorization that president obama seeks is distinctly and clearly in our national interest. in our national security interest. we need to say to syria and the
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world, the dictators and terrorist, to allies and civilians alike, the unmistakable message that when we say never again, we don't actually mean sometimes. we do not mean somewhere. we mean never again. this is a vote for accountability. the norms and the laws of the civilized war. that is what this vote is for. if we don't answer assad today, we will erode the standard that has protected our troops for a century. our troops. our troops in war have been protected by the existence of this prohibition. through world war ii, through korea, through vietnam, through both iraq wars. the fact is we have not seen
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chemical weapons in the battlefield but for the two occasions i mentioned previously. our troops are protected. we have to stand up for america's interests. i say to allies and our partners are counting on us. the people of israel, jordan, and turkey, each look next door and they see chemical weapons being used. they are one stiff breeze away from the potential of those weapons harming them. they anxiously await our assurance that our word is true and they await the assurance that if the children lined up in those un-bloody burial shroud in damascus where their own children, as they might be if this got out of hand, they want to know that we would keep the world's promise. as justice jackson said in the opening argument at nuremberg, the ultimate step in avoiding periodic wars, which are inevitable in a system of international lawlessness, is to make statesmen as possible to
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the law. if the world's worst despots see they can flout prohibitions, then those prohibitions are rendered just pieces of paper. that is what we mean by accountability. and that is, i say to all of you respectfully, that is why we cannot be silent. let me be very, very clear. when i walked into this room, a person of conscience stood up by me, as is the ability of people in our country. and that person said, please don't take us to war.
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you will take us to another war. i think the three of us sitting here understand that plea as well as anyone in this country. let me be clear. we are not asking america to go to war. and i say that sitting next to two individuals who well know what war is, and others here today know what war is. they know the difference between going to war and what the president is requesting now. we all agree there will be no american boots on the ground. the president has made crystal clear, we have no intention of assuming responsibility for assad's civil war. that is not in the cards. that is not what is here. the president is asking only for the power to make certain that the united states of america means what we say. he is asking or authorization, targeted and limited to deter or
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degrade bashar al-assad's capacity to use chemical weapons. i will make it clear. for those who feel more ought to be done in keeping with the policy that assad must go, the degradation of his capacity to use those weapons has an impact on the weapons available to him and it will have an impact on the battlefield. just today before coming in here, i read an e-mail to me about the general, the minister of defense, former assistant minister, i forget which, who has defected, and is now in turkey. there are other defections we are hearing the potential of because of the potential we might take action. there will be downstream impacts, although that is not the principal purpose of what the president is asking you for. some will undoubtedly ask about
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the unintended consequences of action. let me say unequivocably, bluntly. if assad is arrogant enough and foolish enough to retaliate to the consequences of his own criminal activity, the united states and its allies have ample ways to make him regret that decision without going to war. even aside's supporters, russia and iran, say publicly the use of chemical weapons is unacceptable. guess what? even iran and syria itself acknowledge these weapons were used. they just say that the guys who did not have the capacity to do it did it. some will question our responsibility to act here. to them i say, when someone kills hundreds of children with a weapon the world has banned, we are all responsible.
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it is true because of the geneva convention. but it is also true because we share a common humanity and sense of decency. this is not the time for armchair isolationism. it is not the time to be spectators to slaughter. this is not the time to give permission to a dictator who has already used these weapons the unfettered ability to continue to use them because we stepped back. neither our country nor our conscience can afford the cost of silence or inaction. so, we have spoken up, the president of the united states has made his decision. the president has decided we need to do this. but in keeping with our constitution and the full measure of the articulated aspirations of our founding fathers, the president is coming to the congress of the united
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states, a decision the american people agree with, and asking the congress to stand with him and with this administration, to stand up for our security, to protect our values, to lead the world with conviction that is clear. that is why we are here. we look forward to having a rigorous discussion with you in furtherance of that mission. >> thank you, mr. secretary. we have been joined by secretary hagel, who before being appointed secretary of defense, served in the united states army until 2009. he is the recipient of two purple hearts for service in vietnam and we have been joined by general dempsey, a former platoon leader to commandant commander.
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he has served in the united states army for over 40 years and now serves as the chairman of the joint chiefs. we will now go to our secretary of defense, mr. hagel first. >> mr. chairman. ranking member engel, members of the committee. thank you. general dempsey and i also apologize for being late. the other side of the capitol held us up. but we are much better for it. so, thank you for your understanding. in the coming days, as we all know, congress will debate how to respond to the most recent chemical weapons attacks in syria. a large scale sarin gas assault perpetrated by the syrian government against its own people. i welcome this debate and i
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strongly support president obama's decision to seek congressional authorization for the use of force in syria. as each of us knows, committing a country to using military force is the most difficult and important decision america's leaders can make. all those who are privileged to serve our nation and have a responsibility, in many ways, to serve our country -- but the primary responsibility is to ask the tough questions before any military commitment is made. the american people must be assured that their leaders are acting with the court to u.s. military objectives with an understanding of the risks and consequences involved. the president and his entire
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national security team asked those tough questions before we concluded that the united states should take military action against syrian regime targets. i want to address very briefly, mr. chairman, before i get to your questions, how we reached this decision by clarifying our interests at stake, our military objectives, and the risks of not acting at this critical juncture. as president obama said, the use of chemical weapons in syria is not only an assault on humanity. it is a serious threat to america's national security interests and those of our allies. the syrian regime's use of chemical weapons poses rate risks to our friends and partners along syrian borders including israel, turkey, lebanon, and iraq. if assad is prepared to use chemical weapons against his own people, we have to be concerned that terrorist groups like hezbollah, which has forces
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supporting the assad regime, would use them. we cannot afford for terrorist groups to acquire or use these chemical weapons. the syrian's regime's actions threatens to erode the nearly century-old norm against the use of chemical weapons, a norm that has helped protect united states forces and our homeland. for example, north korea maintains a master supply of chemical weapons that threaten our treaty partner the republic of south korea. i just returned from asia, where i had a very serious and long conversation with the south korean defense minister about the threat of north korea's stockpile of chemical weapons.
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our allies throughout the world must be assured the united states will fulfill its security commitments. given the threat to our national security, the united states must demonstrate through our actions that the use of chemical weapons is unacceptable. the president has made clear that the objective would be to hold the assad regime accountable, degrade its ability to take out these kind of attacks, and deterred the further use of chemical weapons. the department of defense has developed military options to achieve these objectives and we have positioned u.s. assets throughout the region to successfully execute the omission. we believe we can achieve them with a military action that would be limited in duration and
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scope. general dempsey and i have assured the president that u.s. forces will be ready to act whenever the president gives the order. we are also working with our allies and our partners, key partners including france, turkey, saudi arabia, the united arab emirates, and other friends in the region. defining our military objectives, we have made clear we are not seeking to resolve the underlying conflict in syria through direct military force. instead we are contemplating actions that are tailored to respond to the use of chemical weapons. a political solution created by the syrian people is the only
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way to ultimately end of the violence in syria. secretary kerry is leading international efforts to help the parties in syria move forward to a negotiated transition. we are also committed to doing more to assist the syrian opposition, but assad must be held accountable for using these weapons in defiance of the international community. having defined america's interests and military objectives, we also must examine the risks. there are risks of taking action. there are also risks of inaction. if the assad regime and feel empowered to carry out even more devastating chemical weapons attacks, chemical weapons make no distinction between combatants and innocent civilians and inflict the worst kind of indiscriminate suffering, as we have recently seen. a refusal to act would undermine the credibility of america's other security commitments including the present's commitment to prevent iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. the word of the united states
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must mean something. it is vital currency and foreign relations and international and allied commitments. every witness here today at this table -- secretary kerry, general dempsey, and myself -- has served in uniform, fought in war, and seen its ugly realities close. we understand a country faces few decisions as grave as using military force. we are not unaware of the cost of war. but we also understand that america must protect its people and its national interest. that is our highest responsibility. only those of us who have the privilege and responsibility of serving this great nation oh our people and those wearing the uniform of our country a great
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debate. i know everyone on this committee agrees and take the responsibility of office just as seriously as the president and everyone at this table. mr. chairman, thank you. >> mr. secretary, thank you. we also appreciate general dempsey being here today to answer the committee questions. if i could go to you, secretary kerry, a question i referenced in my opening statement. other countries are watching. as i understand it, the administration and you have been in contact with the governments in discussion with south korea, turkey, saudi arabia, israel. i have read several others in the press. i was going to ask you, the communications that you are having -- what are those communicating to you about this
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incident, when you talk to these governments? >> mr. chairman, i'm very happy to share that with you. let me just say at the outset, i mentioned an e-mail i got coming in. the same news outlet, reuters, has now said the syrian government is saying the defection has not taken place. who knows if it has or it hasn't? what i do know is this. the intelligence is very clear. in other settings, i urge you to go and look at it. there are currently defections taking place. i think there are something like 60 to 100 in the last day or so. officers and enlisted personnel. and there are serious questions taking place among the so-called elite of syria about whether or
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not bashar al-assad has taken things to far. there are serious westerns. i put that on the table for you to think about. >> i understand, but -- >> we have reached out to over 100 countries. we continue to reach out to these countries. 53 countries have acknowledged that chemical weapons are used. 37 have said so publicly. that number will grow as the evidence we released yesterday becomes more troubling. i will be meeting with the
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foreign ministers of europe, 28 foreign ministers, on saturday. this will clearly be a topic of discussion. many of them have had reservations, waiting for the evidence. i see many more countries joining. 31 countries, or organizations, have stated publicly or privately that the assad regime is responsible for this attack, and that was before our evidence package was put together. 34 countries organizations have indicated that if the allegations prove to be true they would support some sort of action against syria appeared to be specific and bear down on the president's proposal and this particular action, currently in the region there are a number of
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countries, friends of ours, that have offered to be part of this operation. and those countries can speak for themselves. but there are more countries that have offered to be part of this operation that our military currently believes we need to have part of it, in order to affect the operation. there is interest in having a multinational effort and i think the president is committed to doing so. but there are friends of ours, including france as you know, which is sticking with its position, and others in the region who are prepared to be part of this operation with us. >> let me ask you this. one of the first reactions i've gotten from the members here is on the open-ended nature of that authorization. on the senate side, as you know, there is now discussion. there is no support of the boots on the ground on the house side, but there is no reference to its in the authorization.
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now they are talking about a comprehensive syrian strategy and resolutions here on the house side are coming at this from a different direction than the original authorization. i would like your views. can you express your response to the resolutions you now see on the senate side and here on the house side, on rewriting the original authorization? >> i have made a point of importance not to discuss my personal views. that is for you to determine. i will tell you that militarily, the broader the resolution, the more options i can provide. but that said, i will also assure you that the president has given me quite clear guidance that this will be a limited and focused operation, not open-ended. >> i will maybe go to secretary
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hagel for a few comments on this, if you could sum up, but again, it is clear there is no support on the house side for boots on the ground. the rewriting of the authorization, your response? >> i have seen one draft. i have not seen anything in the last few hours. i know that all of our agencies represented at this table as well as the national security council are working with the appropriate people. i have confidence that we will be able to come up with a mutually agreed upon resolution to accomplish the objective. >> thank you, mr. chairman. secretary kerry and secretary hagel, the -- maybe you can comment to this.
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i believe the that american credibility on the international stage hangs in the balance, and while it is crucial to make sure that assad never uses chemical weapons again, i believe there's something bigger at stake, that is, the message to iran as they continue to pursue a nuclear capability. they're watching how we respond to the assad regime's crossing of the president's red line, and the world is also aware that president obama is seeking to stop weapons of mass destruction. how do you think the calculus on the nuclear program will change based on what we do now? >> congressman, there's an
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enormous amount of question in the region, not just by iranians, but by the saudis, the kuwaitis, as to whether the u.s. means what it says. and they ask me all the time, are you guys serious about iran? i'm sure when they come and visit with you, they look to you for reassurances with respect to america's position on iran. the there is no question in my mind that the president of the united states does not bluff, and he is committed that iran will not have nuclear weapons. but if we fail to enforce a standard that has been in existence for almost 100 years regarding regarding weapons of mass destruction, we are putting that into question in the minds of a lot of observers and
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creating problems for ourselves. we may get closer to a test that may not be constrained or managed as a consequence of our actions today. i believe it is critical -- two things i would say without any question in my mind. if we fail to pass this, those who are working with us today with the syrian opposition, we have been working hard to keep them from funding bad elements, whether it is a misrata or others, which they have funded out of frustration because they think they are the best fighters and the only people that are going to get the job done. if we back off and failed to enforce our word here, i promise you the discipline that we have put in place with respect to the moderate opposition vs. bad guys will dissipate immediately the it and people will resort to anybody they can find to help them accomplish their goal. and we will have created more extremism and a greater problem down the road. the word will be misinterpreted in many ways, not just iran.
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>> thank you. perhaps secretary hagel could answer this. secretary kerry just mentioned the opposition. i put in the bill several months ago that would allow us to aid the well vetted syrian opposition. i do not think the potential use of military force we are considering can be looked on in a vacuum. this operation must be like as one piece of a comprehensive strategy.
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as the downgrade syria's use of chemical weapons, will we be in turn downgrading iran? and will we be downgrading assad's ability to murder his own people? >> you are correct, this one option that we are debating today, it works in parallel with a number of other tracks that are ongoing. i think most all of us believe the president believes -- and everyone at this table believes there is no military solution in syria. it will require a political
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resolution. in that regard, the actions that we take will be in parallel with the opposition, the strengthening of the opposition. it would be parallel to what secretary kerry noted, the continuing defections from assad's military. it would be with the international community continuing to strengthen their voices and joining us with this condemnation. all of the other consequences that come from this would be part of this. that is the way i would answer your question. >> we will go now to the chairman emeritus of this committee in florida. >> thank you. welcome, gentlemen. we have been aware of assad's chemical stockpile for years, but we have failed to hold him accountable. the united nations has been completely useless at affecting any change in syria, thanks in no small part to russia and
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china's persistent stonewalling of the security council. and congress has certainly had our fair share of missed opportunities. last congress, the house passed the iran, north korea, syria action. but no action was taken on it. had the united states taken on a more pro-active role in syria by instituting strict sanctions against assad's regime, it may have changed his calculations on using chemical weapons. the president must clearly identify what our national security interests are to keep from further escalating that situation. what does target airstrikes look
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like? what does degradation look like? and what will we do if it does not yield the intended result? one senate resolution ground troops for combat operations. this sounds like it leaves the open possibility of butz on the ground for other things like a special operations. is this intentional? will you confirm that under no circumstances will we place butz on the ground in syria? even a limited engagement, if it ends up being the only limited, could cost taxpayers billions appeared with the members of the arab league so eager for the u.s. participation, have they offered to offset any of the costs associated with this action? iran and north korea are carefully watching our next move. if we say that the use of chemical weapons is unacceptable, yet we fail to act, we will either emboldened iran's pursuit of chemical breakout possibilities. the failure to act will be seen
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as a green light by the iranian regime, who will see that we do not have the will to back up our words. what about boots on the ground, the arab league, will they pony up? and there's a rumor circulating today that perhaps the house will not have a vote on authorization. the senate will and not on the outside. if you could comment on that. >> i do not know anything about this for mark nusoor will not comment on it, because it is a rumor and it's the first-ever of it. with respect to either -- the first i have heard of it. with respect to arab countries and their offer to help with the cross, yes, they have appeared that offer is on the table. with respect to boots on the ground, now the. there will be no boots on the
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ground. the president has said that again and again. we reiterate, no boots on the ground. we have absolute confidence that what our military undertakes to do, if it is ordered to do so, will degrade the capacity of assad to use these weapons and serve as a very strong deterrence. and if it doesn't, then there are subsequent possibilities as to how you could enforce that. >> thank you. the details of the offer and the proposal on the table, what are
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the figures we are talking about? >> we do not know what action we are engaged in right now, but has been quite significant. i mean, very significant. some have said that the u.s. has been prepared to go do what we have done in previous places. obviously, that is not in the cards and nobody is talking about it, but they are talking about taking seriously getting this job done. >> my time is over? >> we better go to mr. meeks of new york in order to get through the full panel. >> mr. sherman of california than. >> the president drew a red line. presidents often draw red lines in order to deter action. usually, they deter that action
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to our benefit and at no cost. when the president drew that red line for i'm not aware of anyone in this room who criticized it or disassociate themselves from that red line. now assad has crossed that red line. it is america's red line. if we do not act, he will use chemical weapons many times in the future. they may be decisively successful for him. and dictators for decades to come will learn from assad's lesson. chemical weapons use on civilians in and mass scale the is effective. in picking targets, gentlemen, you will be torn between the germane and the effective. germane would be directly related to chemical weapons. but we want assad to keep control of his chemical weapons. you'll be seeking out targets
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related to the storage or delivery or control of chemical weapons. instead, i think you should focus on punishing and deterring assad by having a valuable asset that will demonstrate to him that it was a military mistake to use chemical weapons. even air or naval assets unrelated to the delivery of chemical weapons will make that lesson clear to him. we have all learned a searing lesson from over 4000 casualties in iraq. but we should also know there are 150 occasions -- and i would like to put in the record acrs listing an analysis of 150 occasions in the last 40 years where america has deployed its military into dangerous or
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hostile situations. in most cases, limited purpose, limited deployment, and the cost was so limited we forgot the incident involved. i hope that what you are planning is something much more along those lines than iraq. the resolution sent to us on august 31 is obviously flawed. i sent secretary kerry amendments on the first. i would like to explore with you what elements a good resolution would have, knowing that this resolution adds to the authority you already have under the war
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powers resolution of 1973. is it acceptable for this resolution to confirm what you have already said? that is, the resolution itself does not add in any way to the powers of the president to put boots on the ground in syria? is that an acceptable resolution? secretary kerry? >> absolutely. >> would a time limit of 60 days indicating you might have other authorities to act beyond those 60 days, what we are authorizing now is limited to 60 days. is that acceptable? >> we would prefer that you have some kind of trigger in there with respect to his -- if he were to come back and use chemical weapons again, there would be the capacity to respond to that. >> you could always come back to congress. or you could have a provision every time he uses chemical weapons to get another 60 days. >> that would be acceptable. >> the first or the second? >> the second. >> and finally, would you accept a provision that says you may want to consider a regime
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change, including the rebels under the authority that you have, but that this resolution is limited to the punishing and deterring of the use of chemical weapons and not to change the outcome of the civil war? >> the president has a narrow authorization so that no one gets confused about being offered a vote on two different things. one is with respect to the use of chemical weapons and to make our word respective to the region. >> the more narrowly tailored it is, the more careful you are. finally, for the record, if you could explain -- >> we will introduce the
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questions for the record afterwards. but we need to go now to mr. smith. >> the "new york times" editorial yesterday said it was "alarming that president obama did not long ago put into place with our allies and partners a plan for international action." very alarming that we have failed to do in the last several years what ought to have been done. that is a "the new york times" editorial, hardly a conservative newspaper. i have three questions. i would ask that you best of your ability answer all three. president obama said yesterday that he wants to make president assad regret using chemical weapons. the first question, do we have clear proof that assad himself ordered it? the second question has to do with chris wallace on sunday. you said the very second the
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planes were in the air on coste row, there was a vote in the house. your word, very instant, is certainly an elastic term. it was a full month later. the bombing of serbia began on march 24 and the house voted against it on april 28. during that time, there were significant assurances that the entire operation would be a short duration, very limited. and i know many people had thought, including in brussels at nato headquarters, that it would last just a few days. it lasted 78 days.
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488 in-527 civilian deaths occurred from the bombing. and significantly, the milosevich retaliation killed about 10,000 people and put most albanians to flight. how do you define ltd. and short duration? and what might assad do in retaliation in attacking other areas that we might not have anticipated? and finally, i plan to introduce a resolution to authorize the president to establish a specialized court, he syrian war crimes tribunal to help hold accountable all those on either side, including assad, who have slaughtered and raped in syria. i wonder what you might think about that as well, whether or not the administration would support such a court. we have learned things from the special court in sierra leone. and certainly, we have learned from the court in yugoslavia. it has to be immediate and i think it could be a rallying
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place. you yourself have said that we should send them to jail. let's send them to jail. i think there are other alternatives. >> congressman, i actually did not have time yesterday because of our testimony to read the "the new york times" editorial. i would like to read it. but there is a plan in place. the london 11 so-called have been working internationally. last year, secretary clinton joined in the, in can meeting with the russians and others to set up a process for transition in syria.
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that is what we are currently pursuing now. together with our allies and friends in this endeavor. that includes france, great britain, italy, germany, the emirates, saudis, and others. it may not be working as well as we would like and has not had its impact yet fully, but in addition to that, we have seen the president take steps in response to the initial attacks of chemical weapons to increase lethal aid to the opposition. that is now known. >> i'm almost out of time. with all due respect, limited, a short duration, a special tribunal on war crimes for syria. >> perhaps we could have more
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luck with that, a special court. i would certainly welcome holding people accountable for those kinds of abuses. >> mr. meeks of new york. >> i would like to submit my statement for the record. >> without objection. >> i agree with the president's decision to come to congress for the authorization for the use of military force to address chemical weapons use by syrian forces. i think it was the right decision, both constitutionally and morally. in making my decision on the use of force, i try to look at it from both short and long term interest for the security of america. to that end, i believe the use of chemical weapons by the assad regime is a flagrant violation
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of international norms against such use of weapons and it is against u.s. interests. but it is not only against u.s. interests, but also against international interests. if we act in a unilateral way, i have huge concerns. there's a violation and we react, especially militarily, in a multilateral way. i don't know where nato is, but i've heard medeiros say they have condemned it. i don't hear them saying they will step up with us militarily. i have heard the arab union, the arab league step up with us. i have heard people condemn. and you have said the world is
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watching what we are doing. but i have yet to hear concrete things of what the world is doing. i am fearful they will isolate the united states if we are only doing something unilaterally while the world sits back and watches. when there is an international violation that took place. you say that it matters today that we are working as an international community to rid the world of its worst weapons. and i could not agree with you more. but i do not see and hear where the world is stepping up and agreeing to act with us militarily, not just condemning the actions. but acting on that condemnation of the actions with us in the military fashion. russia has obstructed efforts to investigate the use of chemical
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events. would you elaborate on what, if any, role russia has in bringing about a political solution in syria? and how has that been engaged, given the administration's attitude that there is no military solution? one of my concerns of the possibility of unintended consequences, including the prospect of prolonged military engagement. in august, you sent a letter saying there were actions that could be taken short of a military presence that could alter their behavior. you also said that it could escalate and commit as decisively to the conflict.
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could you elaborate on what you meant when you said that we could decisively be committed to the conflict? how do you minimize the possibility of prolonged commitment? and if international support is as limited as it appears to be now, how would you keep this from being more pronounced? >> i want to take george for the record, i predict. in the time remaining, i believe it is the focus and the purpose of the military action that will give us the best chance of limiting it in time and commitment. in other words, my letter to the representative talked about answering the question of what it would take to tip the scales in favor of the opposition. if we were to take military
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action ourselves to support the opposition, that is a very long prospect. what we're talking about here is not that. the purpose is to determine the grade for the specific purpose of chemical weapons. our intent is to limit it. that is not to say that i can discount the escalation. i can never discount that, but we will mitigate it as much as possible. >> welcome, gentlemen. i know you would all like me to tell you that a number of people came up to me in the airport this morning and urged me to stand with president obama on this issue, or that my phones have been ringing off of with callers supporting the administration's position, but i think we all know that would not be accurate. nevertheless, trying to approach your potential resolution with an open mind and will consider
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any argument the administration might make for the use of force against the assad regime. i have some serious concerns. and many of my colleagues on this committee probably share a number of them. before we support a resolution on the use of force or not, it will depend on how these concerns are addressed in the coming days by the administration. this is part of that process. secretary kerry, president obama did not come to congress seeking a resolution on the use of force in libya. what is the difference between a in libya and syria when it comes to seeking congressional authorization? >> the difference is that in the case of libya, you had already passed a u.n. security council resolution and an arab league resolution, and a gulf states cooperation resolution.
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and you had a man who you knew was prone to follow through on his word, promising that he would kill like dogs all of the people in benghazi. there was an urgency to respond. the united states provided air support, while the french and british carry out the mission. under those circumstances, the president felt the urgency, the emergency to protect life, and and a capacity that had already been granted. that is where he's coming to congress. >> had the british parliament not rejected prime minister cameron, would he have bothered to come to congress? >> i believe he would have. there were discussions, to some degree, about whether or not it
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should happen. he had not made of his mind. he did not announce it to us. but my personal belief is, yes. and there are people making that argument on his legal team. >> you indicated that you have not had time to read the "the new york times" editorial, so i'm assuming that you have not had time to read tom friedman's column. >> actually, i've read it today. >> i do not always agree with him, in fact i seldom do, but i tend to agree with his assessment of the syrian situation today where he says that rather than firing missiles, a better solution is to arm more moderate groups in syria. my only concern is that it may be too late. failing to arm these groups months, or even years ago has allowed al qaeda to become more powerful.
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would you comment? >> i am delighted to. on what tom friedman said, and i often do agree with him, but i do not on this particular occasion. he said you should arm and shame. i do not think assad is going to be changed in this particular situation. and there is our main taking place. but if you simply arm and state that your policy is too ashamed, and to back off, deteriorating his capacity to deliver chemical weapons and say, ok, that does not matter to us, you have opened a pandora's box for the use of chemical weapons. and all those people that you arm will be victims of a chemical weapons attack.
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it is important that we send a message and deteriorate his capacity. and we would have given him in shooting with respect to any future use. >> -- impunity with respect to any future use. >> what made the president change his mind and consult with congress? >> you have to ask him. i don't know completely. >> i assume you discussed it. >> we did discuss it, and the president said very strongly that it was important for us to be in our strongest posture, that the united states needed to speak with one voice. you all ask for consultations. the president began a process of consultation. we hear from many of you, and you said that it was very
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important to come to congress. i know that mike rogers in one particular conversation talked about the need to not have a display. you're fighting with congress, fighting with your allies, fighting with the u.n., and try to unify it if you can. i think that was great advice. the president tried to put america in the strongest position possible. >> mr. secretary, one of the things i read today that disturbs me a great deal was by the end of the year, we are going to have about 3 million refugees from the syrian conflict. i am concerned of the impact striking syria would have on increasing the number of refugees. and i'm concerned about how the it is going to destabilize our friends in the region. jordan is already experiencing
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it, turkey also. are we creating policies to alleviate what is coming, this avalanche of refugees? by the end of the year, they expect 3 million refugees. that could be a big destabilizing factor in that region. >> this brings you squarely into a confrontation with this question that is fundamental to the treaty will make. there are risks of acting. but believe me, it is our judgment collectively, and the president's, that the greater risks are not acting. you have 1.6 million to 2 million refugees today without our acting. and every indication is that it
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is going to get worse. if we do not act and assad is able to rein gas down on his people, watch the number of refugees. the greatest way to affect his capacity to create refugees in the region is to act and get a stable and of syria were you can have a transition government. that is the goal. and we have no chance of getting there if we back off and give him a message of impunity. we will have said, nobody cares, gas your people, you do what you need to to stay in office, and we are backing off. that would be one of those moments in history that would live in infamy.
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and there are some of those moments. munich, a ship off the coast of florida that was sent back and filled with used and they lost their lives to gas because we did not receive them. there are moments you have to make a decision, and i believe this is one of those moments. >> are we making any new policy? i know we already contribute more money than anybody else to assist the refugees. >> the world needs to step up on this refugee issue. the united states is probably providing more than anyone else, but it is unsustainable. there are other discussions taking place as to how we might respond to this ongoing crisis in non-military terms, but i think there are options available to us. but we do not want to get ahead of ourselves. >> this military action, i assume we are coordinating with our friends in the region.
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>> we are, congressman. >> and do you anticipate they will go along with us if it increases, the need for them to participate? >> there with us, some with basing and some with oversight. >> mr. joe wilson of south carolina. >> thank you. thank you for your longtime leadership to avoid a crisis that we face today. thank you for being here today. we are here to learn more about a very serious issue, a u.s. strike on syria. as a member of this committee and chairman of the house armed services military personnel subcommittee, has a 31-year veteran of the south carolina
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national office guard and army reserve, but also the father of four sons currently serving in the u.s. military, i'm very concerned about what we are hearing today. i have many questions about the proposed strike and the risk to the military, american families, and our allies, particularly neighboring israel, jordan, turkey, and iraq. some have characterized this strike as a pin prick that will not prevent president assad from using his chemical weapons. what will you do if he resumes chemical weapons? where do these chemical weapons come from? >> congressman, thank you for your service and for your sons' service. i can speak for general dempsey and all of our military leaders that there is no higher purpose that we all have, nor more
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significant responsibility than the protection of the men and women who served in uniform. they are our highest priority. as your questions, the president stated again yesterday in a meeting in the cabinet room with leaders of congress, and i think congressman engel was there, as was chairman royce, this would not be a pinprick. this would be a significant strike that would, in fact, degrade his capability. the three of us have noted that any action carries with it risk, and the action carries with it consequence. but also does inaction. i can assure u.s. secretary of defense, that the department of defense, our leaders, have spent
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days and days going over every contingency, every option, everything you have talked about and more -- security of our forces, our embassies, consulates, the president insisted on seeing those plans. collateral damage, innocent people being hurt. we think the options that we have given him, first, would be effective, and the would carry out -- >> the time is flying. where did the chemical weapons come from? >> it is no secret that the assad regime has had the significant stockpiles of chemical weapons. >> from a particular country? >> the russians supply them and other countries supply them.
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they make some themselves. >> on april 25, the white house legislative director wrote that our intelligence community does assess that the syrian regime has used chemical weapons. with the president's redlined about why was there no call for military response in april? it was a delayed to divert attention today from the benghazi incident, the failure of obamacare enforcement, or the failure of the debt limit vote? why was there no call for a military response four months ago when the president's red line was crossed? >> the reason is very simple. the president made a decision to change his policy, but he did not believe the evidence was so
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overwhelming. it was significant, and cleared was happening, but on a scale that he felt merritt said the increase of assistance and the announcements that he made with respect to the type of aid to the opposition. he did respond. this was so egregious, and now builds on the conclusions of our intel community as to the numbers of times, but such a clear case, so compelling and urgent with respect to the fragrancy of the abuse that the president thinks as a matter of conscience and a matter of policy, the best route is to proceed through military action. >> but in april, it was very clear. chemical weapons are chemical weapons. >> but the president did not believe it was a compelling enough case to win the support of the american people, as well as the world. this is, and the president did
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respond. he upgraded what we were doing so vividly. he came to congress. we had to struggle to get congress to agree to do what he wanted to do to agree that effort. >> your time has expired. we need to go to mr. gerry connolly of virginia. >> thank you. mr. chairman, late last night we delivered to all members of congress, and i physically delivered a copy today of an alternative resolution very narrowly drawn that actually codifies what the president has said he wishes to accomplish, and codifies no boots on the ground to try to make sure that we stay focused on the issue and one response to that issue, and possibly provide the white house to a path for authorization.
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i urge you to look at it, and hopefully we will be able to market up. i looked at this issue and recommended it to my colleagues if they find it helpful. the first was, if the evidence strongly compelling and if not, incontrovertible? second, if so, what action is warranted? thirdly, what is the efficacy of the proposed action and what are the risks? fourth, what is the efficacy and were on the risks of doing nothing? and finally, if the latter always the former, how can congress provided authorization that is narrowly drawn to ensure no further involvement, but does two things -- enforces international law with respect to the ban on chemical weapons and deter future use of such
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weapons? all of this is a matter of judgment. everything i've heard from both sides of the aisle this week has been sincere and heartfelt. it is a difficult issue. i have come to the conclusion myself that the evidence is convincing and compelling. i also believe that the overhang of iraq has many of us chained. iraq was faulty information to justify a wrong priority. we are not dealing with a
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president who is hungering to invade another country or to put boots on the ground. in fact, he has shown his reluctance to do so. there is no doubt the weapons exist, the stockpiles are there, and there is no doubt he used them. the question for us is what we do about it. mr. secretary, let me ask one question. if we do nothing -- and secretary hagel i invite you to answer as well, keeping in mind limited time. what is your judgment that's assad will use chemical weapons as a routine weapon to turn the tide of this war?
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>> i think the likelihood is very high that he would use them again. >> mr. secretary? >> i a agree completely. i might even put it at 100%. you should check the antel on it. i think he will be convinced. >> if you are right that it is 100%, that we will see these weapons used to turn the tide of the war, what is the probability that these will also get into the hands of hezbollah and other elements supporting the regime, and perhaps best proliferate the region for friend and foe alike? >> i cannot give you that probability. i just do not know what it is. i can tell you there are three principal supporters of assad and the rest of the world that
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are in horror of what is happening. those are iran, hezbollah, and russia. if iran and hezbollah are allowed to both see him stay in power, as well as to do so with the use of chemical weapons, that is extraordinarily dangerous for jordan, israel, lebanon, and our interests. >> we need to go to the chairman of the homeland security committee. mr. michael mccall from texas. >> thank you for being here. next week, we commemorate the 12th anniversary of 9/11. it was al qaeda that hit the world trade center and the pentagon down the street from here. al qaeda is the enemy and before 9/11, al qaeda was the enemy. as chairman of the homeland security committee, i want to
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make sure that never happens again. i know you share that as well. it gives congress and the american people great pause because there is no good outcome here. there is no good side. assad is the actor who used chemical weapons, no question. but who were the rebel forces? who are they? i ask that in my greetings all the time. and everytime i get briefed on this it gets worse and worse. the majority now are radical islamists pouring in from all over the world. they come to syria for the fight. and my concern is that any strike against this regime, as bad as it is, will empower these radical extremists. and we have seen this before. we have seen it in afghanistan. we saw what happened in egypt,
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in libya, and what the arab spring has brought us. they have filled the vacuum. who will fill the vacuum when the assad regime falls, which we know it will. who will fill that vacuum? are the extremists going to take over not only the government, but these weapons? they're the ones most likely to use these weapons against americans and the united states. and while those images of children in damascus are horrific, i do not want to see those images in the united states. that is my grave concern. this is a very dangerous step that we are taking and we have to be very careful on how we proceed. with all due respect, i think this is well-intentioned. but i have these concerns. i want to hear from you as to whether you share these concerns
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and what you're doing to stop that outcome, because that is the worst outcome that could happen. >> congressman, i apologize for interrupting. i think it would be helpful to you -- as you were asking the question. because i'm very concerned about the foundation of your question, the premise of it. a woman by the name of elizabeth bagley, she works for the institute of war. she is fluent in arabic and has spent an enormous amount of time studying the opposition, a city in syria. she just published a very interesting article which i commend to you. sitting behind me is ambassador robert ford. he has spent time in syria. the has been done enormous amount of time working with them and helping to understand is
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dynamic. i just do not agree that the majority are al qaeda and the bad guys. it is not true. there are about 700,000 oppositionists. about 15% to 25% might be in one group or another that we would deem to be bad guys. there are many different groups. and sometimes they are fighting each other, even now. the general belief, there is a real moderate opposition that exists. and our allies in the region are now in a disciplined way funnelling resistance to the moderate opposition. >> i get when you're saying, but there are moderates. the briefings i have received are that it is at 50% and rising. these fighters coming globally
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are not coming in as moderates. they're coming in as jihadist. i also want to hear from the secretary and from the general as well. >> i agree with secretary kerry's analysis. let me remind us all, and you know this very well, congressman, especially with your responsibilities as chairman of the homeland security committee. this is an imperfect situation. there are no good options here. every point you made of the complications with the various terrorist groups that we have noted are there. i don't question that. secretary kerry has pointed out that we are moving in the right
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direction. >> time has expired. >> i believe we stand at a pivotal moment where congress is either going to uphold its duty to protect our national security or we will retreat from our moral and strategic obligations. it will have to be a narrowly drawn resolution to determine whether congress to end of four human-rights or allow our power to dramatically shrink. this is a hard choice. by emboldening the vial regime and its terrorist proxy's, i think it is essential that the united states send an unequivocal message to assad and especially iran, that the president, and every civilization on earth says that you cannot dass ines and children to death. it is about preventing atrocities in the future.
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american credibility is also on the line in iran. this committee has been strongly bipartisan and set a clear red line that we will not allow iran to obtain weapons capability. if congress votes down a limited authorization, then to iran's leaders, our red line against their development of nuclear >> wens is meaningless.
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have the images of children murdered of assad. if this was to occur, it is about preventing such atrocities now and in the future. the continued use of chemical weapons, and preventing those weapons from being used by terrorist groups that threaten our allies and our citizens. american credibility is on the line. set a red lineas that we will not allow iran to obtain chemical weapons. leaders, -- the sanctions we pass unanimously out of this committee, and 400
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members supported on the house floor, the rendered largely worthless because they are not backed up by a credible threat of force. if you want to do everything to solve the nuclear issue, without military action, we must support this authorization. authorizing the use of force against syria, will make it clear to the world that using chemical weapons or defying international law in pursuit of nuclear weapons will not be tolerated. this is about serious holding assad a campbell will -- accountable. to this decision lightly. i do not want to be in this position. we didn't put ourselves in this position. us in this position when he chose to gas his own people. secretary kerry, a lot of people
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have come up to me and said they are disgusted by what they see. what is america lies at the be the world's policeman? i ask you, why should the u.s. lead this effort? will we learn which of the 34 nations have said they will >> the nightction since america is not being the world's policeman. the nice is america is joining with other countries in upholding an international standard that 180 nations have joined into. we are blessed with an extraordinary capable military that the mcafee will have invested in. our security interests are
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directly involved in what is happening in the middle east. our security interests are directly threatened with respect to assad's use of these chemical weapons. support withng a international -- with other countries. among them, the arab league. specific countries that have talked in terms of acting. the french, obviously the british felt it should. i think that raises the stakes theerms of our holding multilateral effort in which the united states is the most technologically advanced partner.
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to chairman of the nonproliferation subcommittee. >> we have heard a lot today about credibility of the united states. it seems to me that we have a credibility problem because our foreign policy in the middle east is inconsistent. our enemies really don't know what our foreign policy is. our friends don't know what it is. i'm not so sure americans know what our foreign policy is in the middle east. we have seen it play out with different reasons, going into different countries, removing people from leadership and putting someone else then. i like my friend are concerned about the players on both sides. there is no pure side in this civil war. you have has below, a bunch of
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bad guys on one side. you have other terrorist groups on the other side. from -- i also believe these are powerful groups on both sides. history will find out who ends up winning. you factor in the religious condemnation, any have a real problem. my concern is now, specifically, we want to do something to punish mr. bad guy assad. no question about it. here is a bad guy. we are not going to shoot him. we're not quite as they come out because we don't want to do stable -- to stabilize the civil war going on between two different sides if i understand what that policy is. so, let's do that.
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i'm going to ask general dempsey question this first. , get rid of them, i assume as a we are trying to do, limit the weapons of mass destruction, even though they're getting those things from syria -- from russia. should we do that? assad fights back. he doesn't just take it. he retaliates against us, or let's iran retaliate against israel because we have come through this civil war. they shoot back. then, what do we do? once americans are engaged in escalated specific strike come on now by our choosing but by their choosing. do we escalate him a or do we not fight back?
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i know general dempsey, you have a tough situation on your hands. what do we do if they shoot back at americans? or our friends, the israelis question mark >> to verify, this is not about limiting chemical weapons. that is not possible. it is about convincing the assad regime that is acceptable for them to use them. that is the limit of this. we are posture for the possibility of retaliation. >> i know you are in the military, and you are to the point. you are in charge. escalating,that with u.s. military involvement in the region. have you made a contingency plan for that? us,ever the reaction is to
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having the contingency plans for us in escalated military operation in the region. kopelman spirit of my on my conciseness, yes. >> there, you see escalation a possibility. military escalation in the region as a possibility >> i can never drive it to zero. i think that the limited purpose, the partnerships we have in the region and the contributions that we will seek from others begins to limit that risk. question, you mentioned earlier that you are concerned about removing assad from power. you want to -- can you elaborate on that? separate from this
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conversation, which is about the limited purpose of deterring integrating, i still am cautious about whether we should use u.s. military forces in support the authorization for the opposition for the purpose of giving the balance. -- but i other ways of remain cautious about taking the opposition's role here in the civil war. >> -- thank you, mr. chairman. >> that bashar assad used chemical weapons i think is irrefutable. however, i think the facts of history are needed here as well. the situation in syria is that of a national civil war. that conflict that america cannot solve and should not try to. this is not a fight for freedom and democracy.
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there is no democracy movement in syria. if there is no unifying vision or social contract. not a constitution, or even a preamble of what syria wants to become. this is nothing more than a fight for control between two secretary and fashion -- to factions. -- two factions. it is estimated to be about 1000 militia with no air power. this is a conflict between a brutal and murderous dictator and an opposition who's best fighter are represented by al qaeda affiliates and islamic extremists bent on creating islamist sanctions in syria. there are no good options. the lesson in syria, as in iraq and afghanistan, is that civil wars should be fought internally and that political reconciliation cannot come from
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without, it has to come from within. if that cannot be a post from outside influences. we know that from our own history. the syrian civil war has caused 100,000 apps in a countries 23 million, the american civil war caused 675,000 deaths from a young nation of 34 million people. after spending two dollars trillion in iraq and afghanistan, representing $40,000 in debt for every american family and the loss of 6668 american lives and the destruction of tens of thousands of americans, iraq is -- at any time in its history. afghanistan is as corrupt as it's always been. the american people are sick and tired of war. it is time to nation build in america and invest in the growth
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of the american economy. bashar al-assad used chemical weapons on his own people. that is morally reprehensible for certain. he should be condemned universally by the international community and stiff sanctions should be imposed. he should be indicted as a war criminal in the international tribunal for his murderous deeds. unfortunately, the use of chemical weapons in this part of the world is not new. saddam hussein used them in the iraq-iran war. and again, against his own civilian population in northern iraq in 1991. unfortunately, the stockpiling and use of mustard gas and staring, thousands of tons of -- and sarin, is all too common today taking back decades. the international support for the united states-led military strike in syria, however limited in scope at the time, consists
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of two countries. turkey and france out of 194 countries. the rest of the international community, but for china and russia, says we support you, america and your military strike, so long as we do not have to do anything. the air of league's restaurants response to this -- the arab league's response to this is a joke. here we are, left to topple the last regime in the middle east. for the third time, in a decade, entering a national civil war in that part of the world, essentially alone, again, secretary kerry, you spoke on the world's response to the use of chemical weapons. even that history, one would think that more countries would join the u.s. in participating,
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not supporting, in participating in a military strike against syria. what gives? >> well, congressman, i will try to be quick here. first of all, i do not want to make this debate about what is happening in terms of regime change and a larger issues. i just want to clarify. a -- who was tired of corruption and being slapped around started the arab spring in tunisia and throughout a dictator who had been there for a long. of time. that's a long period of time. it was a bunch of young people with facebook and so forth who organized a resolution. it was not the muslim brotherhood. it had nothing to do with religion. it had to do with a generation of people looking for freedom, opportunity, and aspirations to
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be met. the same thing happened in syria. in syria, that opposition was met with violence by assad. that is what has happened here. the moderate opposition is, in fact, committed to democracy. it is committed to the protection of all minority rights, inclusivity, they want elections in syria. i do not want a debate about that because this is not about regime change. this is about the enforcement of the standard with respect to chemical weapons. the president is asking for a limited authority to enforce that standard, not to deal with all those other issues. >> matt salmon of arizona, chairman of the western hemisphere committee. >> secretary kerry, let me first congratulate the president on bringing this matter to the congress as i believe he is constitutionally required to do. i for 1 am very happy he has chosen to do this.
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he said just this morning that he did not draw a red line, the world did with the ratification of the chemical weapons treaty. where is the rest of the world in the response? why are we looking at a go it alone mission? you said in your testimony that there are 34 countries who are with us. what degree are they with us and you are they, specifically? >> i do not have the full list of them here. i have listed a bunch of them. the arab league countries have condemned this. a number of them have asked to be part of a military operation. the turks, nato countries have condemned it. they have asked to be part of an operation. the french volunteer volunteered to be part of an operation. there are others who have volunteered, but frankly, and i
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will let general dempsey speak to this, we have more volunteers and we can use for this kind of an operation. in the next days, those names as they chose to as evidence comes out will be made more public. as i said here, we have 53 countries who have already condemned the use publicly area 37 have said so publicly. -- publicly. 37 have said so publicly. i think it total of 34 nations have said they are prepared to take action. that is growing. more countries are reviewing the evidence we have shown. as i have said, over time the president has purposively -- purposely taken this to congress. he has asked me and the state department to reach out to more countries and to build the kind of international support that this merits and we will do so. >> thank you.
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i would appreciate it if we could get a list of the countries and what assets they are willing to -- >> i have -- >> not now. we can get that later. i do have a question for general dempsey. what are our goals in the military strike? the president said the military attack would be limited in duration and scope. do you believe that the use of strikes will achieve the president's goal and can you guarantee the american people that the assad regime will be unable to launch any chemical warfare attacks altered home or on their neighbors? do you believe the region will be more stable after u.s. attacks or less stable? >> the mission given to me was to prepare options to attack, did terror, and degraded. that would be targets directly linked to the control of chemical weapons, but without
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exposing those chemical weapons. secondly, the means of delivery, and third, those things that the regime uses, for example, air defense, long range air missiles and rockets in order to protect those chemical weapons. so, that target packages still being refined as i sit here with you. as far as whether it will be effective, given the limited objectives i have received, the answer is, yes. i believe we can make the military strike effective. what it will do to the region, that really will depend on the reaction of the assad regime. as i mentioned earlier, our partners and the united states military is postured to deter his retaliation. >> finally, general dempsey, as we have been discussing this over the last few weeks, we have given pretty clear -- we
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telegraphed our message to assad and his regime that we are planning to make an attack. do you not assume that they might circle those wagons with civilians and with the possibility of civilian casualties being very great? >> the targeting requirements, as given to me by the president, require us to receive a collateral damage estimate that is low. though they are, in fact, moving resources around and in some cases placing prisoners and others in places that they believe we might target, at this point our intelligences keeping up with that movement. >> karen bass of california. >> inc. you and thank you chairman ranking member for holding this hearing today and our witnesses for coming. i have three questions and i would like to get out all three questions. then ask whoever chooses to
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respond. as i recall in libya, the arab league asked us to intervene. if i am wrong, correct me. i want to know what was different this time. i know they condemned the attacks, but why haven't they asked us to intervene? and then second, what type of retaliation, if any, do you expect from syria, from iran, hezbollah, or other unaffiliated parties and what are we doing to prepare for any retaliation? finally, as i understand, -- made some comments today that he might be open to the idea of responding if it could be proven where the chemical weapons came from. i was wondering if you thought this provided an opportunity? how you might interpret his comments, but is there an opportunity for the international community to come together?
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those are my questions to which ever one of you chooses to answer. >> i will answer the one that actually most up lies to my particular expertise, and that is what kind of risk of retaliation. there is conventional risk, that would be if he chose to use some of his long-range rockets to attack his neighbors are some of our facilities. there is also asymmetric. he could encourage some of these surrogates and proxies such as lebanese hezbollah to attack an embassy. there is action secret seek to achieve in a cyber and we are alert to all of the possibilities. we are mitigating strategies in a way that we have positioned ourselves in the region. >> thank you.
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the arab league and the other one was about putin. as i recall, during libya, i believe the arab league asked us to intervene. i wanted to know what the difference was with syria. so, they condemned to the attacks but they have not asked us to intervene and why? >> the reason is that a couple of their members, a number of their members, three or four of them are not in favor of it, so they did a consensus statement. individual countries are prepared to and are in favor of it. i named the number of them. lebanon, for obvious reasons, has some problems. nigeria and iraq have some issues. you can understand why people might be a little restrained. let me just share, could because this has been a recurring theme here today. australia, the foreign minister said australia supports the
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u.s. position on syria. it is right to take actions to support vital international norms. he noted that australia believes the united states has its right independent of any endorsement from the united nations council. lightning yet said they are ready to politically support the u.s. and nato in any action that needs to be taken to put an end to the massacre of the syrian population and support the syrian population. >> before i run out of time, could you respond about putin? >> i would interpret his question -- his comments as hopeful that the jeep 20, -- that the g-20, the president and he will have a onversation. canada, stephen harper said we should take action. it denmark, france, poland, turkey.
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all have suggested the united states should take action and would be prepared to take action with us. this is a building response and i think other countries understand of the moment. >> we are going to go now to mr. tom marino of pennsylvania. >> thank you chairman. secretary hegel, if you could ell me or tell us, who are the bad guys? r maybe put it this way. who are our allies? who are the good guys in syria? >> you are referring to the opposition, i assume? >> who are they? >> we have covered some of this round. again, you are looking at various groups that are part of he opposition.
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s secretary kerry noted, under the general there are groups who have one motive and one objective. that is a free and inclusive syria. >> do you trust these people? >> that is not my business to trust. >> it has to be the business is you are making decisions to go into war and put american lives at risk. it is a simple onset. you either trust or do not trust. if you do not trust, we do not call these people our allies or support. >> congressman, every nation, every individual, every group response in their own self-interest. we are not unaware of all the different groups self-interest. >> excuse me, sir, with all due respect, i think we are aware if we look back at what happened in libya and in the middle east in the past. if we look at the muslim brotherhood. al qaeda. we have to take this into
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consideration. obviously, we do not know yet who the good guys are. >> congressman, let me respond to that. not on good guys-bad guys. if the focus is on a narrowly drafted resolution asking resolution from the congress. >> i would not think the good guys would be using gas. secretary kerry, if i may ask you, from one prosecutor to another, i believe you are beyond a reasonable doubt assertion. i truly believe that. this will not stop the utchering and the killing that takes place over there. what is the purpose? what is the endgame? what is the imminent danger to the united states? >> congressman, you are absolutely correct that it will
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not stop the butchering. i wish it would. what it will do is what it is intended to do. it is intended to a search the principal, which has been in place since 1925, that no one should use chemical weapons under any circumstances. >> i understand that. this is the reality of this. what is the reality of this? we have seen this used in the past. you made the comment in 2002, when bush wanted to go into iraq which i did not agree with. he president also made the statement which i think was in the senate, in the state that was advancing his career, that we should not do this, even
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know -- even though saddam hussein gassed his own people. what is his own -- what is the difference here that you are so intent in going into syria because assad has done this? >> the gassing was not the pretext for that operation am a but ultimately saddam hussein was held accountable for not just that crime but all of his other crimes. he hung. the bottom line is he was held accountable. >> in hindsight, i concede see ou stating that. but you are not supporting that in 2002. you are supporting it now. i do not see the difference. my issue gets to this. who is going to pay for his? and what is it going to cost the united states taxpayers?
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>> i will let secretary hegel address the cost issue from the military. >> we have looked at the different costs depending on the different options depending on the decision the president makes. we have given some ranges of this. it would be tens of millions of dollars, that kind of range. >> i see my time is running out. believe this, regardless of the minimization of intervention, american military personnel will die. this i cannot accept. soldiers coming home in a body bag is not acceptable to me and therefore i cannot and will not vote for this intervention. thank you. >> this notes that no boots would be on the ground, i might remind the congressman. >> i have heard that before. >> we go back to the gentleman from massachusetts. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank all of you or your service to our country. i want to thank all of you for sharing the information you ave so far with congress and he american public, as well as the world. think, clearly, that anyone
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looking at this evenly that has been a success in terms of making clear the case that there were chemical weapons used and that the assad e-government -- assad government use of them. i want to congratulate you on those efforts. general dempsey -- so general dempsey does not run out of time with a few seconds to answer, we were going down a road that i want to pursue if i could. you raised concerns in the past about engaging militarily in the syrian conflict. obviously, you are here today to support a limited military reaction. you did start to say in your remarks that there are military outcomes in supporting the opposition. but you qualified as saying, that is not what we are doing here. i am concerned that regardless of our stated intent in this area, that others will not share that same view. that is not our intent. if you could, and in plenty of time i hope, could you just expand upon what your concerns were and maybe are that you had
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in the past that you stated so we have a better understanding of what they are and given you enough time to see what your views might be on how we can mitigate that or navigate around those concerns in the situation we are right now? >> i want to separate support for the opposition from acting in a limited focused way to deter and degrade the assad regime from use of chemical weapons. the former, support for the opposition, does come with some risk of a slippery slope of not ntirely understanding when that support ends and how much it has to grow over time, which is why i am mostly supportive of helping the opposition by their development, by training and equipment. not by becoming their military arm. separate that from what we are
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here for today. in my view, militarily, the fact that the assad regime has increased its use of chemicals over time to the point where it initially was a weapon intended to terrorize a small portion of a particular neighborhood. to send a message to the opposition, to where now in the most recent case it was used to literally attempt to clear a neighborhood. they reached a point where assad is using chemical weapons as just another military pool -- military tool in his arsenal. that runs a great risk for syria. it runs a great risk in the region. it runs a great risk for the glow. i am able to, with a lots integrity, i hope, be able to come to you today to make that distinction that we should do something in our national interest based on the use of chemical weapons without committing to supporting the opposition to overthrow the regime. >> is part of that slippery slope, was that partly a
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concern about how other countries or other factions could be taking our actions question mark even in a limited sense, we are helping the opposition because we are attacking the assad government. in that respect, is that any concern that you had prior to that question mark how do you mitigate that now? >> we always considered not only whether -- the actions we would have on our partners and even the iraq use, for that matter. with what impact it would have on our potential adversaries. of coarse, that has always been a concern. a concern and a consideration. but when something reaches the level where it has a direct impact on our national security, then the overriding consideration is not what others think but what we think. >> thank you, general.
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ranking member in europe and eurasia. it was set in 1999 -- there was a precedent set in 1999 were nato moved without approval. o you think this helped them moving not just individually. -- trying to get nato support as an organization? >> i apologize. i was just reading a note. could you repeat that question mark it was about nato, the 1999 precedent where they moved forward without that security council approval. is there any hope of doing that going forward? >> i doubt it, but i cannot tell you until i have the meeting this weekend and get a better sense of that. i will say to congressman marino, with respect to the body bags, i think we had a 28-day campaign, maybe air
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t-day campaign in kosovo. there were over 30,000 of our aircraft and so forth. none of which is contemplated here. and there were zero casualties. zero. >> we should go to jeff duncan t -- of south carolina at this time. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i cannot discuss the possibility of the u.s. involvement without talking about benghazi. the administration has a serious credibility issue with the american people. the benghazi attack was almost one year ago. when you factor in the targeting of the irs to conservative groups and nsa
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spying programs, the bottom line is that there is a need for accountability and trust-building. to paraphrase, it was said that i am not upset over you not telling me the truth. i am upset because from now on i cannot believe you. he it ministration has a credibility issue. benghazi is germane to the discussions in syria, because as you stated, the world was and is watching for our response. after almost a year of not bringing anyone to justice in benghazi, they are watching our response. your predecessor asked, what difference does it make now? this is the difference. these issues call into issue he accountability of this administration. the american people need to speak up. if this is about accountability. it sure it is. the american people deserve
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answers about benghazi before we move forward in syria's civil war. this is a victor. you cannot see it from there, but you might go to see on the screen. this is a picture given to me why his father, a navy seal. this family deserves answers. he was killed in benghazi. america deserves answers before we sent another man and woman into harms way, a specially in another country's civil war when there is no clear indication that there is an imminent threat to the united states. i do not question that chemical weapons were used in syria. i have looked at the classified briefings. i do ask where are the other signatory countries as the u.s. beats the drums of war against this regime and syria? i have spoken to hundreds of constituents. this represents about 300 e-mails that my office has gotten and not a one member in my district are the e-mails of people who have contacted my office to say, go to syria and fight this regime. they say, no. it did not go into syria. do not get involved in their civil war. i spoke to eighth graders.
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about 150 of them get it that we should not be drug into someone else's civil war where there are no good guys. i can only envision an escalation of this conflict. the same administration that was so quick to involve the u.s. in syria now was reluctant to use the same resources at its disposal to attempt a rescue to four brave americans that fought for their lives in benghazi. secretary kerry, you have never been one that has advocated for anything other than caution in past conflicts. the same is true for the president and vice president. is the power of the executive branch so intoxicating that you would abandon past caution in favor of pulling the trigger on a military response so quickly? the reason that i say benghazi is germane is this. secretary kerry, had there been any efforts on the part of the united states directly or indirectly to provide weapons to the syrian rebels, and that would also include facilitating
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the transfer of weapons from rebels to the syrian rebels. >> have there been efforts to? >> to put weapons in the hands of syrian rebels and also transfer weapons from libya to syria. >> let me begin, congressman, by challenging your proposition that i have never done anything except advocate caution because i volunteered to fight for my country and that was not a conscious thing to do when i did it. i'm going to finish, congressman. i am going to finish. and i was in the united states senate, i supported military action on any number of occasions, including her innate in panama. i could run a list of them. i'm not going to sit here and be told by you that i don't have a set of -- a sense of what the judgment is. we are talking about people being killed by gas and you
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want to go talk about benghazi and fast and furious. >> absolutely. americans lost their lives. i do think there should be a worldwide response, but we should act cautiously. >> we are acting cautiously. we are acting so cautiously that the president of the united states was accused of not acting because he wanted to have sufficient evidence and he wanted to build the case properly. >> it has been 15 days. >> point of privilege, here. this is important. i think this is important. it is important whether or not we are going into syria in a way that the congressman describes, which i think most people in america do not want us to do. would you not want to do that. that is why the president has said no boots on the ground. this is not about getting into syria's civil war. this is about enforcing the principle that people should
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not be allowed to gas their citizens with impunity. if we do not vote to do this, a sod will interpret from you that he is free to do this any day he wants to. that is what this is about. not getting involved in syria's civil war. let's draw the proper distinction here, congressman. we don't deserve to drag us into another benghazi discussion when the real issue here is whether or not the congress is going to stand up for international norms with respect to dictators that have only been broken twice until assad. hitler, and saddam hussein. if we give license to somebody to continue that, shame on us. >> we go to mr. davis of rhode island. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to begin by thanking our three witnesses not only by being here today, but for extraordinary service to our country. i went to a knowledge the president for his
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consultation. i've had the opportunity to participate. i was on the telephone monday with secretary kerry, hegel, and ambassador rice. i think the president for his ongoing consultation and sharing of information. his is a difficult question. secretary hegel said there is no good answers with the use of hemical weapons. it is our ethic. i think the assad regime is responsible and should be held accountable. my question really is, as i talk to constituents in my district who reacted the same way with war weariness and a recognition of all of the
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enormous risks associated with the military intervention, both in propping up the wrong opposition and being deeply engaged in a civil war, they all wonder, is there a set of actions we could take which would evidence strong condemnation, isolate assad, and also vindicate our deep commitment to a set of international institutions. things like making china and russia act on the security council on a public stage to veto a public resolution. seek an indictment of assad for war crimes. isolate syria through sanctions and other kinds of international actions where we might build a broad coalition, strongly condemned the use of chemical weapons, isolate syria, and build the international voice and do it in a way, frankly, that would be more consistent with our values. with the idea of working together and using international organizations. i would like to know, was there a discussion about a set of options that might be effective without the risks that are associated with military actions? was it considered and rejected
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or is it something we could put together that would be a strong force and set of actions that would hurt assad, the turk the use of chemical weapons again, but without the dangers? second question, quickly, mr. secretary, you mentioned america and her allies have ample ways to make assad regret that decision without going to war. i would love more -- i would love to hear more about what those things are is i think many of our concerns are what happens after. i am interested in the discussion from all of you as to whether we might think hard about the ways to do this. >> congressman, a very good question. believe me, we wish that the international institution that is there for this response
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would respond. that is the u.n. and un security council. our representative attempted with other allies to put a resolution before the security council that would have simply condemned the event, not assigning blame at all. the russians said no. they blocked it. that is what has set us into this path that has an effect of deterring assad from these weapons. even if you had some sanction, if it isn't meaningful in a way that is going to deter the action and no one has yet contrived of some piece of aper or terminology with
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respect to what he is fighting for. the judgment has been made that the only way to have an impact and hold him accountable is to make it clear to him that this will, in fact, detract from his ability to abuse his people. > i think what the secretary said is exactly right. i would add two things. there are a number of tracks we are on right now to accomplish hat you're are talking about. secretary kerry's diplomatic track which has been ongoing and intense. reaching out to our allies all ver the world. i was in asia last week with 15
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defense ministers from all over asia discussing this. eeting with leaders. our nato allies. all three of us have been talking to our counterparts from countries all over the world. what did the white house is doing. what the president is doing. we are still involved with the united nations. those tracks are being run in addition to what we are talking about here. one exact point on the purpose of this hearing. general dempsey said this morning at the senate armed services committee, when asked about the violation of the chemical weapons norm come a a 00 year old norm, -- norm, a 100 year old norm, one of the points that general dancey made which is exactly right and we start here, this is a threat to our interest, to our forces, to our country, allowing a tyrant to get away with the use of chemical weapons. that is the real threat.
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>> kissinger of illinois. i know you have had a couple of long weeks. i'm about to support this, but i want to say at the beginning y disapproval of the president's policies in the middle east. i believe part of the reason we are having difficulty rallying a coalition is they do not see the united states is having lead on this until recently. that said, as a veteran of the military, as a current serving military pilot in the national guard, i also am war weary. but i want to remind americans what one of my favorite presidents ronald reagan said. he said, if we want to avoid work, or begins when governments believe the price of aggression is cheap. that is the situation we find ourselves in in.
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it has been amazing to me that we are seeming to paralyze ourselves into inaction, running every potential scenario that could occur in his. it makes me wonder, god help us if we become a country that cannot do the right and because we paralyze ourselves into naction. here's a picture i think everybody needs to see. this is a picture of syrian children, many of which the secretary said earlier, about 400 died in just this one chemical gas attack. if we don't do anything about this, you can ensure that maybe the kids in this picture are definitely other kids will die from the same attack. i want to quickly read you the effects of syrian -- sarin gas. the mild effects is running -- blurred vision, sweating, chest tightness, diarrhea, not sitting, increased urination, slow or fast hi rick, low or high blood pressure. exposure to large doses like we saw in ceric, loss of consciousness, emotions, paralysis, respiratory failure which is a polite way of saying you suffocate to death while ou are aware you are uffocating to death.
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what we are talking about is a discussion of what the international community and united states of america in the goodness of our heart has determined is the right thing we can affect. can we ban artillery shells? we cannot. can we ban all war? we can't. if we can stand up and say chemical weapons have no place in this world and do something about it, god help us if we do not. i will remind folks and ask you all to comment on this eventually. from 1991 to 2000 two or 2003, we maintained two no-fly zones because of our disdain for hemical weapons. most people would have agreed that what we did was the right thing to do because saddam hussein gassed his own residence. this is not the first time america has put down a red line on chemical weapons.
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i have heard people say that this is the president red line, not a red light at united states of america. you just have to look at history to know that it is. i am also reminded of what president clinton said when he was asked what his one regret was. he said his one regret was inaction in rwanda. i wonder in 2010, 50 years, what are we going to say if we did nothing about the gases of people in syria. i have heard people say, in its has really bothered me -- they say that if we go in and strike assad and make him pay for the use of chemical weapons more than any benefit he gains, that we are acting as, al qaeda's air force. i believe that is a cheap line by some people to garner headlines and not a serious discussion about what is going on. secretary kerry, if you will start, what is your hot on the comment -- what is your thought on the comment of the cheap line about qaeda and punishing
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an evil man with evil weapons? >> congressman, your comments have been very eloquent and i think very important to this discussion. i am confident i joined the eneral and the secretary hegel in thanking you for your service, willing to serve both in the guard as well as pilot, but also here. he intent of the president could not be more clear. the impact, if congress will pass this and we can carry out this action, the impact will be not to help al qaeda. in fact, it will not help al qaeda. t will further expose al qaeda.
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it will hold a dictator accountable to this critical standard. you just reiterated it and i said in my opening testimony, this is not just about folks in syria, my friends. american troops benefit from this standard being upheld. and through all of our wars since 1925, we have managed to ee it upheld when we have been involved. the fact is, the absence of our willingness to uphold this standard will do several things that are directly against our interests. number one, completely undermine america's validity, credibility in the region and elsewhere. it will embolden north korea and iran with respect to activities that will directly threaten the united states and our allies. it will, importantly, increase the number of terrorists that we are already concerned about because it will force people
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who want to take on assad to go to the least common denominator of the efficiency and expediency, and that will be to arm the worst people who will try to get the charm -- try to get the job done. alice's urge everybody to listen carefully to the congressman and evaluating's on a basis of common sense and human behavior. in the absence of doing this, there will be impunity to bashar al-assad for the use of these weapons. >> alan grayson from florida. >> do syria and hezbollah have the means to launch a counter attack to the u.s. embassies? >> our maritime assets are positioned such that there are no capabilities that can threaten them.
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embassies, of course, are a fixed resource and always subject to terrorist attack. that remains true today as it has for the last 10 years. we have taken steps to mitigate that risk. >> and israel? >> israel, you may be aware, is actually anticipating some action. gone to a state of high alert. called reserves. taken a lot of measures. we partner with israel very closely on the defense of israel. >> would you say a counter attack is more likely than not? >> i do not think i could say that. without signaling the syrian regime in some way, i would not say that. i would not come to that conclusion. >> secretary kerry, have members of the syrian opposition called for such an ttack and if so, whom question
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mark -- whom? >> not specifically that i know of. they support it, apparently they have not advocated to me. i've had conversations and there was no urging to do his. >> haven't members of the syrian opposition said they do not want an attack? >> no, i have not heard that. >> you have not seen public reports to that effect? >> no. >> secretary kerry, there are 189 signers of the chemical weapons convention. serious not happen to be one of them. how many of those signatories have pledged to participate in the military intervention in syria and what exactly is each ne pledging to do? >> there are at least 10 countries that have pledged to participate. we have actually not sought more for participation. we have sought people for support. there are many more, obviously, that support.
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i think i should let the general speak to the uestion. i said earlier, there really is a limit for this kind of and opposition -- for this kind of an operation as to how many you want to participate. you want support, but just physically, the management, the technical capacity and other issues, are critical. you want to say something? >> i apologize. i was writing down your first question. what was your first question about partners? >> of the 189 signatories to the chemical weapons convention, how many of them have pledged to participate in a military attack on syria and would have a pledged to do? >> i just have the final answer to that. -- i do not have the final nswer to that. we have agreements in many different ways, some of which would not be appropriate to speak about in an unclassified setting. >> will the military action in
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syria, if it does take place, require supplement appropriation? and if you do not, would you ommit to that now? >> it depends on the option that the president would select. i have said that we will work with the congress on whatever the cost of that is. >> thank you. >> secretary hegel, there has been a report in the media that the administration has mischaracterized post-attack a military communications and that these communications expressed surprise about the attack. this is a very serious charge. can you please release the original transcripts to the american people can make their own judgment about that important issue? >> what transcripts are you eferring to? >> the transcripts that room ported -- that reportedly took place after the attack and that the government suggested they confirmed the existence of an
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attack, but actually it was reported that syrian commanders expressed surprise about the attack taking place, not confirmed it. >> that is probably classified. i would have to go back and review exactly what you are referring to. >> you will agree it is important that the administration not mislead the public in any way, won't you? >> of course. i'm not aware of the administration misleading the american public on this or any other issue. >> would you agree the only way to put that to rest is to release the reports in some redacted form? >> i will not agree to anything until i see what it is, but most likely it is classified. >> i am asking will you declassify it for this purpose. >> i just gave you my answer. i have no idea what exactly you are talking about. i would have to look at it and confer with others, our intelligence community, i would have to see it. >> thank you for your time. most importantly, your service
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and time in uniform. general dempsey as a young man. i have grown weary for several months. not weary of war, because i know as each of you know that war is sometimes the price that a free society must pay to defend our freedom and to protect our interests abroad. i have grown weary of the president's war weariness. i have grown weary for several onths, not weary of war. i know, as each of you know, war is sometimes the price a free society must pay to defend our freedom and protect our interests abroad. i have grown weary of the
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president's war weariness. i have called for action in syria. action should have taken years ago. i am deeply worried our national security interest are at stake in syria. you said the president does not bluff. i fear our enemies and our allies do not believe that statement. for sometimes we have let iran violate numerous resolutions. in syria, we have not acted on usage of chemical weapons. i believe the world is watching. the day the united states does not act is not just the day bashar al-assad knows it's open season but also the date kim jong on knows that and that the ayatollah spins his centrifuges into overdrive which starts the clock ticking when those nuclear warheads could hit our constituency in the united states. i agree with what my colleague as said, we have a vital interest in maintaining the international taboo against chemical weapons. all of you have been in training, where you have been exposed to gas and you know no one benefits from that more and then american troops.
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i am also worried our inaction is destabilizing the middle east. our allies in israel and jordan as well as turkey and emboldening iran, one of our most implacable enemies as they send thousands of troops to fight in syria, along with hezbollah from lebanon. that is why miracle of miracles, i am in support of the call for action in syria. i am urging my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this action as well. however, the president's stated policy was not just a red line against chemical weapons, which occurred without any objection from members of congress and occurred before he was reelected by the american eople.
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it was also a stated policy of regime change. i would like to ask you, what is the president planning that could lead not just to punishment but also in ultimate victory in syria, so they will not use chemical weapons again and so that a pro-western native syrian government can take its place? >> thank you for the very clear and compelling statement and thank you for the support for the president's initiative for the interest of the country. with respect to the long-term, you are correct. want to separate. in terms of what the president is asking the congress for. yes, his policy is assad must go and there should be a regime change. the president is committed to
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additional efforts in support of the opposition, together with friends and allies, in a coordinated way to achieve that with the understanding that the ultimate transition will come and can come through a negotiated settlement, he does not believe, we do not believe there is a military solution. but this action, nobody should be confused, americans should not be confused. this is not an effort to take over the civil war. it is an effort to uphold the standard and the action the president is asking the congress to improve -- approve is a singular military action to uphold that standard with respect to chemical weapons. on a separate track is the political track which the president is seeking support through appropriate channels in congress, which is in effect to help the opposition in order to see assad leave. we don't want to confuse the two. is there a downstream, collateral benefit to what will
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happen in terms of the enforcement of chemical weapons effort? the answer is yes. it will degrade his military capacity. it will have downstream impact. that is not the primary calculation of what brings us here. what i would like to do, congressman, in a classified session, we should have the discussion about the other things the president would like to see us do. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. i would like to say i have the greatest respect for all of you and. i think secretary kerry, i first heard of you back in 1985 when i was in the jesuits. he had great respect for you because of your activities
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after vietnam and i know, secretary hagel, you are so reluctant to go to war you were not -- almost not approved by the senate. i know you're not anxiously running to war in the president ran on not getting us into war. am someone reluctant to get into a war like this. on saturday i had the opportunity to speak to a small group of veterans in san diego before i flew here on sunday. they asked a question, i told them i would ask, they convinced me it was a good question. one of them has a son in the military today.
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he believes last time we went running off to work the facts that were given were lies and were misleading. what he wanted was one thing. i told him all that i have read leads me to believe chemical weapons were used and that children were gassed and because of that we have to act. he wanted you to promise the fact you have given us our true to the best of your ability. you are not lying. you're not old anything back. what we have seen, and what i have read, i want to make sure you promise us you are telling the truth. >> congressman, i am proud and perfectly willing to tell you everything i have said is the truth and based on the information as it has been presented to me. and based on my own experience in war, which i resolved to do if i was in a position to make any choices, fully vetted.
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i am comfortable with it. i would not make this recommendation if i were not. i believe we have vetted this. we have asked the intel people. we have even had a separate team created that had independence from the original team to totally vet, check all of the analysis. find out if it could have been the opposition. in every case i would say there is a comfort level with this that is rare in this kind of situation. i would not have said you could prove this case if i did not believe it. >> apologize for the insulting question. >> i think it is an important question. we should ask more questions like that. i don't know how i would improve on my former senate
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colleague's question and answer back to you. i feel exactly the same way. i know the three of us would not be sitting here today saying the things we are saying if we did not leave it. -- believe it. he have been through too uch. >> i have a lot of time left but that was my only question. thank you. >> we are going to go to mr. george holding of south carolina. >> north carolina, mr. chairman. that's all right. we still like south arolina. general dempsey, thank you for your service. i appreciate the fact we have a chairman of the joints chief of staff that also has a masters degree in literature. irish literature at that.
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the objectives of this military action that have been stated, the great ability, and deter future actions. and the associated targeting of those objectives. would this action constitute war? >> as you know, congressman, the decision on whether something rises to the level of war that is -- is made to in the congress of the united states. i think militarily it would be hard for me to say this is other than an act of war but the problem is that war has this image of being a campaign over an extended time until somebody plants a flag or surrenders. that is not what we're talking about. we are talking about something limited to address the specific specific issue of the use of chemical weapons.
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>> if we take these actions, trying to achieve the objectives you stated, and the syrians punch back. that escalation. i am sure we can degrade their ability to punch back. i am sure you have planned for that contingency. there is always the chance they can punch back and it can hurt. i think about the british in the falkland. they had overpowering strength and all of a sudden they found that there were some weaknesses. they lost a capital ship. that could happen to us. if they punch back and are successful, would that be closer to a definition of war? >> i am not sure their action
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to our reaction gets into a cycle. gain, it is not the chairman of the joint chiefs that defines or declares war. if you are asking are we prepared for retaliation, we are as well as we possibly could be. >> certainly we are prepared for any retaliation. if there was retaliation, we would have to answer immediately. >> i would not make that conclusion. i think there is no automaticity to anything in conflict. think we would certainly have the ability to control our response on our terms. i would not conclude this resolution starts than process that you lose control of.
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>> is russia still a superpower? >> i think the answer to that question, when you look at the instruments of power, look at ourselves. it's a combination of economic power that defines us as a superpower. i think russia possesses elements that would qualify them to join the club of superpower, they still have an arsenal. but conventionally, i would not put him into that class. i think there are parts of that apparatus that rise to that level. >> obviously, we know that syria and russia are allies. syria has the only russian military base outside of russia.
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if russia decided to strike at us, in that theater, what are the top three options they would have to strike us in retaliation for us shrugging heir closest ally? -- striking their closest ally? >> it would not be helpful in this setting to have a discussion about that kind of hypothetical. i have some views i could share in a classified environment. >> we can say russia would have options to strike us. n retaliation for us striking. >> the have capabilities from asymmetric all the way through strategic nuclear weapons. it would not be helpful to speculate about that. >> brad snyder of illinois. >> thank you, first to the
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service to our country in the time you have spent with us today as well as the time he spent earlier in the year. this is the biggest decision, one of the biggest decisions we could possibly make and when we take very seriously. it is why i came for a classified briefing. i have read the report. i listened in on the teleconference on monday and i'm grateful to have time with you here. i also recognized the angst of my constituents. there is a worry and a legitimate concern. secretary kerry, you said if we do nothing the likelihood of assad using chemical weapons again is approaching 100%. is that fair? i want to turn to general dempsey. you said you can't get -- the risk of escalation down to
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ero. i wonder if there is a risk if we do nothing. >> there is absolutely a risk f escalation in the use of chemical weapons if we do nothing. >> if that approaches 100%, is there a likelihood we are back at the same question again a month or six months from now at a high level with a greater risk? >> i believe so. i think so. >> as i evaluate the decision we have to make, the first thing i want to do is beyond any reasonable doubt, the assad regime has land, perpetrated, and even covered up this use of chemical weapons. one of my questions, general dempsey you have said without a
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doubt, this is a threat to our national interest. is that fair as we go through the decision process? >> it is because of establishing, it is an overused phrase, but a new norm. i have not lived in a world where emma: weapons were routinely used. i don't want to live in that world. >> from an international standpoint, if we have the interest, the authority, i reviewed the chemical weapons convention. the united nations is the authority. six kerry carey, you said they are not available to us. if it was, would we be on a different strategy? >> if the russians were to join in and be willing to pass this
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with the chinese, i guarantee you the president would want to see it passed. could i also, congressman holding left a question on the table and i want to make sure it is not hanging out there. the foreign minister of russia has made it clear "russia does not intend to fight a war over syria." i have had personal conversations with president putin and the foreign minister that have indicated syria does not rise to that level of onflict. their ships are staying out of the way. they are not threatening that. i do not think that would happen here. >> thank you. if the u.n. is not available, the international community is rising up and i want to thank
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you for bringing in the coalition. if we don't to lead, there anyone else who will? to hold to the regime accountable? >> it is conceivable that french might decide. we are not putting that to the test because we don't believe that is appropriate. >> as we look forward, the other options on the table, you have a value weighted, you have seen where we are, this is one of the biggest decisions we are going to make. can you state the strategy laid out your considering will achieve the goals we have to deter and diminish the ability of the assad regime to use hemical weapons? >> militarily i can state we can achieve the goal of deterring and degrading.
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i did not say we can prevent. that is the challenge. we are trying to change the calculus of the regime. >> i understand. for us to prevent would require isolating and putting boots on the ground, which uniformly we stand against. yield back. >> mr. rainey weber of texas. >> general dempsey, these are for you. and your remarks, there were five options, training, assisting, conducting limited standoff strikes, establishing a no-fly zone and controlling chemical weapons. i have been through that. i have studied it. $500 million annually. risks that extremists would gain access to additional capabilities. you remember that?
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perfect. you also said risk for retaliatory attacks and insider attacks. turning their guns on us and illing our troops. you said conduct a limited standoff strikes. your cost was in the billions, depending on the duration. you also said "the regime could withstand limited strikes by dispersing its assets." as if we gave them a two-week notic. -- notice. it would impact civilians and foreigners. you stand established a no-fly zone. your estimate cost 500 million dollars initially and averaged as much as a billion dollars a month. you said there was a risk of using a u.s. aircraft, which would require us to insert
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personnel recovery forces. boots on the ground. he also said it may also fail boots on the ground. he also said it may also fail to reduce the violence or shift the momentum because the regime relies on surface fired mortars, artillery, and missiles. it is not a very good option. you said establish buffer zones. you estimated one billion dollars a month. you said control chemical weapons. american men and women, $1 billion a month. i understand that is not advocated. i have a simple question, everything i read from your summary indicated there is no guarantee of a lasting peace in syria or in the region nor that they are american friendly, after we have a gargantuan outlay of american money,
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